There is much more to the diamond district than its eye-aching glitter. Of interest to me are the people who work there—on the street, at the counters and in the back rooms. All kinds of nationalities, races, accents, religions and motives bring them from all over world and from all over New York to this one midtown block between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
What appear to be storefronts are actually entrances to ‘malls’, each containing dozens and dozens of individual dealers—buyers, sellers, traders, all facets of the trade necessary to indulge in this form of commerce. Reportedly, there are more than 4,000 dealers on this block. It is little more than an indulgence, for there is naught necessary to sustain life, not even restaurants.
During a financial crisis in the 70s, I saw 47th Street filled with hundreds, maybe thousands of people with bags and packages wanting to sell their gold and silver treasures at what was then boggling high prices. Isn’t it the way that in crises?—gold and silver the first things converted back into cash.
What’s inside today’s bundles and lunch bags being carried from shop to shop to bank?
While strolling the street, looking past the window displays to the counters inside, I feel my scan avoided, welcomed, leered at, suspected and invited. I have even been reprimanded.
Their business is not for the faint of heart.