Monday, November 9, 2020

A MURDER IS FOREVER: Guest Post by Rob Bates



Some of you may have seen Uncut Gems, the Adam Sandler movie set in the Diamond District. I haven’t—even though I’ve been writing about the diamond industry for different trade publications for over 25 years. Hey, I watch movies to relax, not to be reminded of my day job. Besides, I heard it’s a little intense. 

In October, I released my first mystery novel set in the Diamond District, A Murder is Forever. (The title is a play on “A Diamond is Forever,” the industry slogan that Advertising Age called the best of the 20th Century.) 

Unlike Uncut Gems, which portrayed the often-seedy street-level retailers on 47th Street, my book is about the more-genteel “upstairs” diamond wholesalers, who are responsible for most of the diamonds sold in America. While A Murder is Forever features plenty of intrigue, mystery, and suspense, it’s also a traditional cozy. Unlike Uncut Gems, it is not going for a record number of F-bombs. (In fact, it doesn’t contain any F-bombs at all. Sorry, F-bomb fans!) 

The book’s heroine, Mimi Rosen, is an unemployed journalist who goes to work for her father’s diamond company, though Mimi and her more-traditional father don’t really get along. There’s a murder, of course, over a $4 million pink diamond, and suddenly Mimi is forced in the role of amateur detective, learning about the diamond business—and her family—in the process. 

In many ways, the journey of Mimi (named after my late mother) parallels my own. My grandfather, Max, worked in the diamond business. When I graduated college, I needed a writing job, and saw a job in the newspaper for a diamond industry newsletter. (Yes, kids, once upon a time people read about jobs by finding them in the newspaper.) Like the book’s heroine, part of me felt I was going backwards by applying for the job. But at the time, writing positions were hard to come by, so off I went. 

In my interview, I told the publisher that I knew all about the business, having grown up around it. Which was kind of B.S.; my grandfather had died when I was a teenager, and I knew zero about it. My dad advised me to write in my thank you letter, let’s say Mazal on this deal. That will make more sense if you read the book. 

The publisher either liked that, or maybe he just pitied me. In any case, he hired me, and I’ve now been writing about the business for nearly three decades. 

I wanted this book to lift a curtain on a business that very few people know about, or understand. It features an interesting mix of ethnic groups, including Hasidic Jews and Indian Jains. It’s an industry where, even today, multi-million dollar deals are sealed on handshakes, without a contract or lawyer in sight. It’s not uncommon to go to someone’s office and see millions of diamonds piled up upon a table, like someone poured them out of a cereal box. 

It features some bad people (unfortunately), as well as some of the most decent, friendly, honest people I’ve ever met in my life. I wanted this book to reflect that. 

And while this book is a “cozy,” it’s a different type than usual. It’s not set in a small town, but in New York City, in a real location, in a real business. It’s very loosely based on some real events. 

But most of all, I wanted the book to be fun, and light-hearted, and full of the twists and turns that everyone loves in good mysteries—while at the same time showing what life is really like in one of America's most exotic, least understood, insular, most idiosyncratic, and sometimes dangerous industries. 

I know I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it. 


Rob Bates has been reading about the diamond industry for over 25 years.  He is currently the news director of JCK, the leading publication in the jewelry industry, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary. He has won 12 editorial awards, including the Jewelers of America Media Excellence award in 2016, and been quoted as an industry authority in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio. He is also a comedy writer and performer, whose work has appeared on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment,, and McSweeney's. He has also written for Time Out New York, New York Newsday, and He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son. You can see more about his book at

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