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Your Guide to the LA Diamond District

by Willyou.net * Dec 24, 2021
Your Guide to the LA Diamond District

It’s no surprise that the city of angels, flowers, and sunshine itself is also a city of diamonds. For generations, the city has been home to the starlets and celebrities who practically invented the luxury and glamor that come to mind when we think of diamonds. It seems only natural that, in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills, a thriving diamond district was created and maintained by master jewelers, dealing in the most impressive diamonds and capable of creating the most captivating pieces for their clientele.

LA’s Diamond District is big – which, admittedly, is true to form for Los Angeles – although, end to end, it’s all within walking distance.

It’s also an excellent place to focus your search for a diamond. There, you get all the benefits of shopping locally (of which there are many), and you also get the opportunity to make use of the incredible knowledge held by jewelers who have inherited generations’ worth of expertise.

Sure, Rodeo Drive might be the ultimate hotspot for luxury – and high price tags – but, with a little knowledge under your belt, you’ll want to direct your Uber straight to the Diamond District.

What is the Diamond District LA?

Also referred to as the Jewelry District, it is an area that is home to thousands of diamond vendors and jewelers, all working in close quarters – some in small stores, others at booths within ‘jewelry plazas’.

In the past, LA’s Diamond District has seen the number of sellers working in the area climb as high as 5,000 – although, these days, the number sits around 1,500.

Even with a smaller number of sellers operating elbow-to-elbow, the atmosphere is still very different to what most shoppers are used to. It is, after all, a world away from the traditional jewelry store most of us think of when we think of retail.

As a result, it can feel overwhelming – like walking into a pressure cooker – but it doesn’t need to, provided you know what to expect, and how to make a good decision.

Where is the LA Diamond District?

Most of the action is located between 5th and 7th, between Olive and Broadway, although you’ll also find plenty of jewelry stores just outside of those limits.

If you’ve read our guide to New York City’s Diamond District, then the first thing you probably noticed is that LA’s district covers a much larger surface area. In NYC, the action is contained within a single block, with vendors lining the street and packed into exchanges. In LA, there is more room to breathe, although you’ll certainly know when you’ve arrived.

From the Marquee signs and canopies to the glittering window displays, there’s no mistaking when you’ve wandered into the heart of the city’s jeweling community.

What to Expect

Walking through the Diamond District, you’ll see signs for wholesale, jewelry stores, and plazas, which is where most of the 1,500 businesses operate from.

The plazas have a vibe similar to department stores, with concessions erected wherever there’s a space – although, of course, there’s a major difference between a Macy’s and a plaza located in the heart of LA’s diamond district. But, if you were expecting to walk into a marketplace, filled with stalls and the sounds of sales jargon being shouted through the crowds, the reality is very different – and a lot more welcoming for first-timers.

In any plaza, the quality of the experience (and the diamonds themselves) can differ drastically, although the highly competitive environment does tend to create more competitive prices. One key thing to remember is that two diamonds from two different vendors that look identical on paper will be very different if they’re not certified by the same diamond lab, so going for the most attractive price may not always be the best approach.

If you find yourself in the Diamond District, then we’d suggest you take a look at the Los Angeles Diamond Factory, which is located on Hill Street – exactly where it has stood for more than 30 years.

Also at the same location is Frank Vernon Fine Gems & Jewelry of Distinction, which has been assisting clients for more than half a century.

How to Prepare

If you do your research beforehand, and pick out a reputable seller – book a consultation with them and maybe even pick out your diamond online first, then you don’t need to worry about getting conned, or overcharged on a subpar diamond. Even so, however, you’ll want to prepare and do your research, or you’ll spend most of your consultation going through the basics with your jeweler.

If you don’t make a gameplan beforehand by picking out a jeweler and getting your head around diamond quality, then you’re less likely to have a good time in the Diamond District. Vendors who have spent any amount of time working in the Diamond District know how to tell the difference between someone who has walked into the plaza to take a look around, and someone who has walked into the plaza with the intention of purchasing a diamond.

They also know how to tell the difference between someone who is going to be able to keep up with the conversation and ask the right questions, and someone who doesn’t know the first thing about diamonds.

So, either way, you’ll want to learn the ropes and guarantee the best experience possible for yourself. That’s the most effective way of protecting yourself against feeling overwhelmed with information and numbers, and a great reason to spend some time online first.

Figure Out What You Can Afford

No one is born knowing the price of a diamond, and it’s not as simple as a 1 carat stone being twice as much as a 0.5 carat stone. Still, that’s not a reason to just wait and see what price the jeweler gives you.

Understanding price also makes it a lot easier for you to find the biggest diamond possible, without sacrificing on visual quality. You can check out our guide to diamond prices to get you started.

You won’t have this trouble at reputable jewelry stores but, if you’re planning on just heading into one of the plazas and seeing what grabs your attention, prices that seem too good to be true will be too good to be true.

Get Your Head Around the GIA’s Grading System

One thing that can make a diamond’s price appear way too good to be true is if a non-GIA (or AGS) lab has graded it. Some of these labs grade diamonds significantly higher than the GIA, and that can only benefit the vendor, not you.

If a vendor is exclusively selling diamonds graded by the IGI, EGL, HRD, or GSI (or a lab not mentioned in our guide to diamond certification) then we’d advise you walk away rather than wasting any time on a poor investment.

A GIA report focuses on the Four Cs (Cut, Color, Carat, and Clarity) as well as other factors like fluorescence and proportion. You’ll want to prioritize Cut quality over all others, and aim for eye cleanliness rather than a ‘good’ grade.

Prepare to Take Your Time

One of the main reasons we urge our readers to visit bricks-and-mortar jewelers, as opposed to those online, is that buying a diamond – and creating an engagement ring – takes a certain amount of time. It doesn’t need to take hours and hours, but it shouldn’t be over and done within minutes.

Talking to your jeweler, looking at the diamond, checking for eye cleanliness, hashing out ideas for the ring, negotiating a fair price – it all takes time. If you let yourself feel rushed, you’ll forget something important.

Again, this isn’t an issue you’ll run into if you’ve chosen a good jewelry store. In most cases, you’ll want to call ahead and book an appointment – that way, you can ensure that you’ve got the jeweler’s full time and attention for as long as you need it.

Should You Buy a Diamond in LA?

If you’re local to the area, then there is no better place to buy a diamond, and have your engagement ring designed and made, than Los Angeles itself.

The Diamond District itself might take some people by surprise while, for others, it’ll turn out to be an exciting challenge. Either way, it represents a fascinating glimpse into a world many of us have never entered into before, and we’re sure you’ll take something from the experience.

You don’t have to limit yourself to the Diamond District, however, if you’d rather go for something a little more familiar. LA is filled with incredible, master jewelers who can help you to find the diamond engagement ring of your dreams. From Beverley Grove to Woodland Hills, there are plenty of options for buying a diamond in LA, both within and beyond the Diamond District itself. At WillYou.Net, we’ve put together an extensive list of recommended jewelers in Los Angeles based on our own past experiences, in order to make sure that our readers are able to get the very best service possible, wherever they are in the city.