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Photography: Brian Watkins courtesy of Ritani; other images by Siobhan Harrington

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1) Brian Watkins 2) A rough diamond 3) Diamond cutter at work 4) Diamonds on display in Ritani’s retail space 5) A multimillion dollar necklace


Tucked inside a Midtown office building is the country’s largest diamond factory


work, but it really is an art form. Every single diamond he office lobby is a generic space guarded is different when it comes out of the ground, especially by a single dispassionate doorman. Here when you are dealing with larger stones. It takes five to you would never suspect that raw and cut 10 years experience before a cutter can even work in a diamonds worth hundreds of millions of factory like this.” dollars are housed just a few flights up. Although diamond is the hardest known natural Located in the heart of the Diamond District, the material, a stone requires a delicate touch. Last year, a 33-story Art Deco tower blends into the jungle of MidRitani cutter accidently cracked a 30-carat pear shape town skyscrapers. “You walk down 47th Street and into pieces. “It happens once in a blue moon,” Klein see all the diamond retailers, but you don’t realize that said. (A bit of perspective: A 30-carat D flawless diathe largest diamond manufacturing facility in all of the PRQG̭̱̭WKHKLJKHVWTXDOLW\FRORUDQGFODULW\̭̱̭FDQUXQ Americas is right here,” said Brian Watkins, president upwards of $15 million.) of Ritani, the third-generation family-owned diamond On the factory floor, a few expert brand, which operates the factory. lapidaries inspect obscenely large That’s right: The largest diamond “You don’t realize the GLDPRQGV PRXQWHG WR GRSV̭̱̭ factory in the U.S. is in Midtown. It couldn’t be more anonymous, and largest diamond facility mechanical, arm-like tools used to Ritani likes it that way, requesting that in all of the Americas SRVLWLRQDQGFXWJHPVWRQHV̭̱̭WKURXJK what might be antique loupes. LLNYC not publish the address. “We is right here.” They cautiously press the stones to are managing about half a billion in spinning wheels every few seconds inventory on a daily basis, worldwide,” —Brian Watkins, Ritani to polish them, producing a high-RPM Watkins said. “That’s about 90,000 shrill. It’s an archaic-looking scene. diamonds.” Klein grabs a diamond from a cutter: “We’re talking Mark Klein, the director of operations for the Julius about $80,000 a carat on something like this,” he Klein Group, which owns a stake in Ritani and shares VD\V̸6RLWVDERXWDKDOIPLOOLRQGLDPRQG̭̱̭WKDWLVLI the factory space, added that most of their higher-end, everything works out.” meaning larger sizes, are manufactured in Midtown. Like setting an auction price for a famed work of Their other three factories are in Africa. art, pricing a rare diamond is complex, and dependent Upstairs within Ritani’s facilities, security tightens. on market conditions. And like art, larger diamonds Behind an impressive set of double doors, some 15 are often one of a kind, requiring handcrafted settings, Hasidic men meticulously handcut and polish some of one-off molds and craftsmen cutters. the most perfect stones money can buy. “I consider these manufacturers artists,” Watkins “There isn’t a school for cutting. It is all learned by VDLG̦—Chris Cameron apprenticeship,” Klein told LLNYC. “It’s very tedious


Luxury Listings NYC - July/August 2015  
Luxury Listings NYC - July/August 2015