Holiday Rush in the Diamond District?
There’s certainly a noticeable change in the diamond district these days. But not all of it is for the better. As my tie bar orders are going through the roof (I thought I was selling jewelry, but ok), I found myself having to rush into the city on short notice to get more wire. A great opportunity, I thought, because there are some other things I could get done the same day. It’s now or never, after all. I have two more shows this year, and then that’s it until March.
I had wanted to get my favorite setter, A. to burnish some diamonds into tie bars for me, but I couldn’t even get near him at first. Three other guys were surrounding him, waiting for their jobs to get done. A half hour later I found him busily setting away while chatting on the phone; Armenian music was blasting from the computer in front of him. But at least there wasn’t anybody else waiting. “Too busy,” was the response to my request. And did he do the order from last week? “No, got sick.” At least he did that one on the spot for me, though.
The other outfit I use was overwhelmed as well, so I asked my polishing service if they knew someone. “Maybe,” the polisher said, and took my stones and tie bars. Four hours later, I received my first real rush job: two totally unusable pieces of junk. The stones looked like they had been jabbed into the silver by someone in bad need of glasses. I returned them to the polisher, to go back to whatever setter he had dug up for the job. “Maybe they can be fixed,” the polisher thought. I doubt it. It was a dumb idea on my part, really, with Christmas just around the corner.
Since I had to wait for several last minute engravings, and for two rings that I wanted to have set, I decided to make good use of my time. I borrowed a hammer and mandrel from a jeweler to hammer a pattern onto a ring that is supposed to be my aunt’s Christmas present. There I was, dinging away while sitting at D’s gemstone booth, when I got approached by a woman working for the silver dealer in the back. “Are you going to be done soon? This is giving me a headache.” “Yes,” I said. Why was she annoyed?, I wondered, since this is a loud exchange and there are always jewelers at work. But I don’t rent a booth there, so I guess I had no right to ding.
Other than that, the day was peaceful. Way too peaceful in fact. The number of people wanting to buy D’s gemstones aside from me that day? Zero. Nobody buys gemstones in December, unless it’s an emergency. So all the gemstone dealers are broke – just in time for their own holidays, which are correspondingly meager. Money doesn’t start flowing again until early spring, when jewelers are stocking up on new inventory. One hopes, anyway.
One person did show up. He needed a stone cut to fit into a setting, within the hour, so D. shaved it down on his cutting wheel. He shaved a little too eagerly, as it turned out, because he cut the stone too small. So much for that rush order. D had to cut an entirely new stone.
Aside from that, another dealer misplaced a $30,000 parcel of diamonds that was supposed to go to the GIA lab for a certificate. (Even a $30,000 parcel can be really small.) I don’t know if it got found, I only know it hadn’t turned up by the time I left.
I got home late. By the time I was all done it was nearly 6:00 p.m. And then I spent another few hours shipping out tie bars. Tie bars without gem stones, that is.