Jewelry in the Caribbean: Buying Tips for Cruise Passengers and Vacationers
Is it Safe to Buy Jewelry in the Caribbean?
Yes, and it depends. Yes, in the sense that it is as safe a purchase that you could make in the United States. It depends in the sense that if you have a problem with your purchase and your vacation is short-term, you could have problems returning your item for a refund.
The United States is full of retail stores that will either sell you what you legitimately believe you are buying or rip you off as well. It is the same story everywhere. Please see the video below for more guidance.
How to Shop for Jewelry in the Caribbean Without Getting Ripped Off
Stick to brand names. It is unlikely that any brand name merchandise you find in the Caribbean is a knock-off. The islands usually don't have the resources to coordinate knock-off merchandise. Not only that, the reputation of the islands is very reliant on tourist dollars. If they become known for selling knock-offs, they could easily lose credibility as a retail destination and be sued on an international level since it is easy to home in on a small island. On the other hand, almost any precious gemstone retailer in any country in the world can fudge the truth about carat weight, color, or clarity without too much incident except for anger on the part of the buyer. With that being the case, you can safely buy brand names such as Pandora and Movado in the Caribbean and breathe easily.
How to Safely Buy Jewelry on a Caribbean Cruise Vacation
Know what you want before you go. Are you looking for diamond anniversary rings, watches, or emerald earrings? If you are on a cruise ship, there will usually be a jewelry shopping expert the cruise ship has hired. You can ask this person for advice as to which stores have a good variety of what you are looking for and have had the least incidents. While this is no guarantee because the cruise lines get kickbacks from the jewelers, the cruise line also has a reputation to uphold by giving you names of reliable retailers. You can also look at the island's tourist website for suggested jewelry retailers. In both cases, type those names into Google and see if there are any reviews that are telltale signs of whether the jewelers are reputable or not.
Know a dollar amount comparison for a similar item in the United States. If you know that a diamond ring of a specific carat weight, clarity, and color is sold for $2,500 in the United States, getting it for $2,100 and no sales tax in the Caribbean constitutes a good deal.
Do not fall to pressure. Caribbean jewelry salespeople are notorious for high-pressure sales tactics. To the point that it almost seems ridiculous. Simply remember you can just cut off the conversation and walk out of the store. You are on vacation and aren't obligated to respond or make excuses if you don't want to purchase something.
Be aware that many jewelry stores on the same street are owned by one company. You could be quoted three different prices from three different stores for the same item. The trick is that these three stores could all belong to the same corporation. You have no way of truly knowing, so if you really like the item, just go to the store with the lowest price.
Stick to a small purchase. If you want the thrill of buying jewelry in an exotic location but cannot get past the fear that you could be ripped off, stick to a dollar amount that won't be painful for you to part with. For example, instead of spending $1,500 for an anniversary ring, spend $200 on another piece of jewelry you also would like to purchase. Perhaps you can buy a pair of earrings or a bracelet for a memento. Then keep the remaining $1,300 to buy your anniversary ring back in your home country.
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