We’ve all heard that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Indeed, diamonds are often purchased as investments and as a hedge against bad currency.
There are three diamond centers that stand out for tourists in the world: New York City, Amsterdam, and Ramat Gan, Israel, a city adjacent to Tel Aviv that is so integrated that you wouldn’t know you left Tel Aviv and entered another city.
Of these places, each has its own specialty. Amsterdam and nearby Antwerp have the reputation for polished diamonds. There a tourist can see the work being done in front of them. In reality, most of the polished diamonds today come from industrial parks hidden from view in India. Experts insist that Amsterdam still cuts diamonds better than India.
New York City’s Diamond District is known as the place to go for the finest, investment grade diamonds. It is where the retailers who specialize in diamonds get their supply before mark-up, and where tourists sometimes go to get high quality for a lower price. In any event, New York has the biggest and best stones. And there are about 2500 dealers right next to each other in a very compact area of the city, making shopping extremely easy.
Israel, in contrast, is known for its trade in smaller diamonds. The volume of diamonds that flows through Tel Aviv is said to be the greatest anywhere, although the numbers are shadowy because the industry is conducted mainly in secret. Israel is said to have the best supply chain for rough diamonds in the world.
So, if you are in Tel Aviv, a fun thing to do is visit the Diamond Center of Ramat Gan. The trade all takes place in about four buildings clustered together.
If you stay in a better hotel, you will see an offer from a diamond dealer to provide “free” transportation to a tourist site for you. I suggest you take the offer. In addition to the free transportation, you will be required to visit the diamond center associated with the company offering the deal. When I accepted the deal, I felt no pressure to buy. In fact, the diamond dealers have a unique ability to know when a visitor is a real customer or just a “tire kicker.” I made it clear when I visited that I was not a buyer.
Whether you are an actual buyer or not, it is fascinating to learn about how diamonds are made and to watch the cutters and polishers at work behind heavy glass walls. The entire tourist area is under tight security with cameras everywhere and locked doors.
Feel comfortable learning about diamonds. You might even find something you “must have.” There was a wide variety of merchandise in all price ranges. The management will provide you with wine, a drink or coffee, if you prefer.
What I found to be of interest is the multitude of languages that are spoken by customers. For this reason, the sales personnel are from all over the world, and very elegant. The lady who waited on me was from Hong Kong, but she was assisted by another lady from Paris. Each had experience working in other places before landing in Israel. My Hong Kong saleslady had most recently worked in Russia. The sales people are great to chat up about their experiences around the world and why they chose to work in Israel. Since many of these folks are minorities in Israel, their perspective is objective, and their decisions to come to Israel are based on religious preferences.
Besides Ramat Gan, I also visited a diamond exchange in Tiberias, Israel, and found it to be a similar experience. Wherever you decide to visit, if you do, relax and enjoy the experience of being pampered as you get close and personal with some very expensive rocks.