NYC PART 1: DIAMOND DISTRICT
48th and 48th in Manhattan is synonymous with jewellery, but most specifically diamonds. It is the mecca of the industry in North America and, some would argue, the world. For anyone with even a passing interest in gemstones, it is The Vatican, Wrigley Field, and Taj Mahal rolled into one. Hasidic Jews carry those non-descript black briefcases and, in a more dangerous era, they would literally have handcuffs joining wrist to bag. Neon signs that would make Las Vegas nod in appreciation illuminate the haggling, negotiating, and banter between dealers. Even if you’re inclined to turn your nose up at the whole process, you won’t escape the general scent of hustle in the air. Manhattan provides a surreal backdrop, grabbing you by your five senses. The thick mugginess of the Big Apple in mid-July sweats your palms, brow, and back only seconds after hopping out of that quintessential checkered cab. Though, to be fair, you have also been able to experience this in Vancouver for the last two months – never again will I attend a Vancouver Canadians ball game without an extra t-shirt tucked away.
In this day and age, almost all diamonds and larger, finer gemstones like fine ruby and sapphire Cavalier sells require a certificate. The most internationally recognized and respected laboratory is the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A) and their office has become a routine first stop.
Today, I’m dropping off a 4 carat blue sapphire for inspection to put a clients mind at ease that the stone has not been tampered, treated or enhanced through heating, diffusion, or irradiation. GIA has been ahead of the curve – actually, they pretty much created the curve – of diamond and gemstone grading. This being my first day back in the diamond district this year, I dropped in to tour their brand new facility.
To enter the lab, one must schedule an appointment, have their fingerprints taken, ID checked, and generally prove they aren’t a Resevoir Dog or someone working for Marcellus Wallace. To be fair, it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.
Over the years GIA has done an excellent job around the globe with their team getting up close and personal with various mining operations. They recently completed an in-depth expedition to Ceylon, Sri Lanka, which happens to be where my sapphire originates. The grading of my client’s sapphire will take roughly 3-4 weeks. Or, roughly the same amount of time it takes to hail a cab at midday in Manhattan.