In "It's rough in the diamond district" (Letter From New York City, May 3), there is an overly negative picture of 47th Street and the American diamond industry. The claim that "47th Street may soon be a footnote in New York's history books" is off the mark and unfounded. New York in the most recent decade shows strength and growth, in spite of adverse economic conditions. According to the U.S. Commerce Dept., more than 95% of all loose polished diamonds coming into the U.S. came through New York. The value of these imports has risen from $1.6 billion to $3.6 billion during the past 10 years.
Comparing the drop in cutters here with the number of cutters in India is mixing apples and oranges. The falling number here reflects a change in the categories of diamonds cut but not the diminishing manufacturing values.
The price of a 1-carat diamond--$63,000 some 13 years ago but just $13,500 now, according to the article--reflects only the fact that diamonds, along with all other commodities, are affected by economic conditions. The reference to lower rents on 47th Street reflects the competition for tenants that has been rampant throughout New York (and much of the rest of the country).
The article quotes: "The players--if 100 of them left New York, this industry would be finished." But if only four major automobile manufacturers or 10 steel manufacturers left the U.S., these industries would be finished, too. There is no movement away from our country by these industries, and there is no movement away from New York by the diamond industry.
American Diamond Industry Assn.
New York's diamond and jewelry industry succeeds because it provides a critical mass of human capital, physical availability of product, and major financial resources. The 47th Street market and its players are strong. They, like many New Yorkers, would rather fight than run.
Rapaport Diamond Report