New York City’s Diamond District Stars in ‘Project Runway’

Prettifying the pressure-cooker cattiness on tonight’s episode of Project Runway will be an avalanche of sparkling diamonds hailing from New York City’s legendary Diamond District.

Models wearing $30 million in diamond jewelry will be lined up on the Project Runway stage. The Lifetime TV reality show’s contestants will be asked to use the mega-bling as inspiration for their main challenge creations.

Lifetime is billing tonight’s episode, which airs at 9 p.m. eastern/8 p.m. central, as “the most expensive episode ever.”

Project Runway‘s Season 12 contestants

It’s a big score, at least, for New York City’s 47th Street Diamond District, which could use some positive exposure right about now. The district was the subject of a recent ABC News show’s expose about jewelers not properly disclosing clarity enhancement. Not to mention the fact that “diamonds currently have the worst image of any jewelry material,” JCK senior editor and diamond expert Rob Bates wrote in April.

That’s not to say NYC’s Diamond District shouldn’t be celebrated. The historic neighborhood, which was established by jewelers and diamond dealers who migrated uptown in the 1940s from the Financial District and an area near Canal Street, is one of the primary centers of the global diamond industry.

Costume designer and New Yorker Eric Daman, the guest judge on tonight’s Project Runway, says he was “delighted to celebrate and promote local business,” adding, “I’m happy to see such a great piece of New York City industry get deserved coverage.” 

Cohost Tim Gunn (photos courtesy of Lifetime TV)

Daman, who’s certainly handled his fair share of fine jewelry while costuming television shows including Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries, relays, “The amount of bling was thrilling to be around, but the pieces are so delicate and beautiful that it didn’t seem like we were participating in a rap video—more like a star-studded, red carpet awards ceremony. The jewelry had more bodyguards then the Kardashians!”

Though the specifics of the challenge haven’t been released, Daman reveals that “most of the contestants did really well—some better then others, obviously. Then there were those who were just a hot mess.”

We’d be crushed if that weren’t the case.

JCK Magazine Editor