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WCBS 880 Interview: Raffi Stepanian – Diamond Hunter Of 47th Street

Diamond (file / credit: AP)

Diamond (file / credit: AP)

Alex Silverman Alex Silverman
I grew up in the New York area in awe of the big voices and the...
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - There are some unique ways to make a living in the Big Apple.

WCBS 880 anchor and reporter Alex Silverman spoke to Raffi Stepanian, of Whitestone, who pays the bills with nothing but a pair of tweezers – on his hands and knees.

AS: Raffi, tell us what you do.

RS: I’m finding diamonds on 47th Street and I’m finding gold dust, which I’m actually compiling, melting down, and selling.

LISTEN: Silverman With Stepanian

AS: Now 47th Street, of course, would be the Diamond District and you just find this stuff out on the street?

RS: Yes sir. Not just diamonds and gold. There’s also color stones, which is precious stones, semi-precious stones.

AS: How did you get into this? How did you realize that it was even possible to find this stuff out there?

RS: Well, anything is possible. But after you start noticing that you’re actually coming across diamonds and precious materials on the floors of elevators and exchanges in the 47th Street area and even on the street, it’s very possible that you can actually pick them up.

AS: Alright, this is the Diamond District, but who is just dropping precious metals and diamonds out on to the street?

RS: Well, this is a very good question because the diamond industry in and of itself happens to be a hectic industry where people are running around back and forth and they got to run from one shop to the next shop and to a diamond supplier and from a diamond dealer and they have to be able to fill orders for their customers and, in the process, they may be dropping things on the way from moving from one location to another.

AS: And how much money are we talking about that you can make by picking up this stuff that’s been accumulating for years and years out there?

RS: Well, that depends on the market prices. You could a couple hundred dollars a day if you do this correctly.

AS: So, on an average day for you, you get out there, you get down on your hands and knees, and what happens?

RS: Within an hour or two, probably anywhere in the area from about $40 to $60.

AS: So, is this an in between thing for you or could you see yourself doing this for a long time?

RS: I could see myself doing this for a long time, but the 47th Street area is kind of small. So, you’d run out of areas to look for. You’d actually wind up cleaning the place up.

AS: Are you worried at all that a whole bunch of people might hear this and start crawling around there with you and there won’t be anything left for you?

RS: Well, I’m not going to be selfish. I was who was blessed in being noted for doing this. I’m not so self-centered and concerned for myself, but I would like other people to enjoy doing this as well.