Where should we buy jewelery in the Caribbean?

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#1
208 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
My mother and I both like our jewelery, and are interested in buying a blue diamond piece on our trip, now we don't have a fortune to spend, and were wondering where are reputable places to go?

our stops are

St Thomas
St Kitts
St Lucia
Barbados
Antigua

Thanks so much! We leave in a week!
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#2
Tacoma, Wa, USA
8,070 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Unless you are a very educated jewelery shopper, I'd recommend nowhere except from a jeweler at or near home.

That beautiful piece that you bought for $500 in XX store on XX island sometimes turns out to be worth $200 maybe. The settings come loose, where you going to get it repaired for free? An excuse to take another cruise?

Unless you are a very savey shopper and experienced in fine jewelery, you'll find close to the same prices at home with better warranty service.

Those cruiseline shopper guarantee's??? Be very careful. Read the fine print on the guarantee that the cruiselines offer and then make your decision.
#3
Washington State
22,084 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
I second the "nowhere" - for all the reasons mentioned.
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#4
208 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Thank you for the advice, I don't plan on blowing a bundle (neither does mom) we have a few nice pieces, and I am a bargain shopper, so if something isn't on sale, I'll usually leave it in the shop.

We are more interested in unique pieces you may not find at home, and do know that you are taking a chance by buying on a cruise.

I am by no means an expert on jewelery but do know a little bit about it, I just think it would make a nice memento of our mother daughter trip to get a matching piece somewhere.
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#5
684 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
I would try St. Thomas before the other ports you mention. There are lots of reputable stores in the US Virgin Islands. I am not certain but I would think a lot if not all of the US consumer protection laws apply there. It sounds like you are not planning to blow a fortune so I would just shop around and buy a couple of pieces that are pleasing to you and your mom as souvenirs of your cruise.
#6
4,697 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Quality and value are two components to jewelry. I am from a family of jewelers and worked in the business years ago. Now that the family has retired and I can shop without a sense of guilt I can recommend gifted jewelers after twenty Caribbean cruises and a number of land trips.
Bernard Passman in St. Thomas is expensive but the Passman work in black coral is worth a look. They have shops at Havensight and in town. I first met the late Mr. Passman in 1986 in Grand Cayman and have been smitten by his work ever since.
Another unique jeweler I never miss is Goldsmithy on Antigua. As you exit the pier the shop is one block over to your right. All of the jewelry is made in house and there are beautiful pieces at many price points. I can't remember the designer/owner's name but he is quite nice and takes great pride in his work.
If you are leaving from San Juan, Joseph Machini has a shop in one of the hotels. When we were there last November the downtown shop was closed but we were by there at an odd time and it may not have opened for the day. Many Alaska cruisers are familiar with his beautiful leather goods as well as his exquisite cut stones.
You will find chain stores in all of the islands. Since you are not going to St. Maarten then you may find St. Thomas the best place to shop at these stores. But as others have advised you may indeed find better values in your own neighborhood. I mentioned the three establishments above because they are stores owned and operated by gifted jewelers and artisans.
Good luck.
#7
Kansas
1,100 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We shopped at Little Switzerland in St. Thomas. They had some beautiful blue diamond pieces. We were very happy with our purchase from there and will go back next time we are in St. Thomas. Have a wonderful cruise!
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#8
nashville, tn
181 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
We found them by accident in St. Thomas and ended up buying my anniversary band there. I love it and it was appraised at much more than we paid. We have since bought several additional pieces at their store. Great customer service. They are downtown.
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#9
British Columbia
6,342 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
If you 'must buy', do yourself a favour and avoid Diamonds International.

john
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#10
14,388 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I am assuming you are aware that there are very few natural blue diamonds, and most "blue" diamonds are inferior colored stones that have been treated to be blue, which makes them more salable.

That said, IMO, there are few real jewelry bargains to be found in the Caribbean, and I would save my purchases for a reputable jeweler in my hometown, so if there were problems, I could bring it back. You never need to pay the marked price for jewelry, even at home. The mark up is so high, you can always offer less.

The exception would be for very unique pieces, such as the black coral ones as mentioned by alcpa1.
#11
Georgia
6,268 Posts
Joined May 2000
I agree with the others that there are few real jewelry bargains to be found in the Caribbean. The last piece of jewelry I bought (sapphire earrings) was appraised for much lower when I got home. If you just want a souvenier of your trip then so be it, but it may not be the bargain you are looking for.
#12
suburban MD
3,454 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I actually disagree with those who warn you not to buy jewlery in the Caribbean. Competition drives pricing, and there is plenty of competiton on the islands. I have bought multiple pieces of jewelry [in the few hundred dollar range] and have never been dissatisfied. I always do a comparison shopping in my hometown shops first. I have not purchased a blue diamond, but agree they are beautiful. I have read that true blue diamonds are rare and expensive, so I would suspect that the ones for sale are a manufactured version.
I would recommend checking out a variety of stores, get prices at each store and the ship stores for comparison. Then pick the piece that you love for a nice keepsake. You do, of course, have to be mindful that any purchases will not be returnable. You can get the warranty by purchasing thru "cruise-sponsored" stores, but I have read that it is a difficult process.
I have never had any quality problems with pieces I have bought. I generally stick to Tanzanite and the caribbean has a way better selection than my local stores, which tend to have small inferior stones.
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#13
16,797 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
If you don't know how to tell a fine piece of jewelry from an inferior piece, don't purchase in the Caribbean looking for a "deal" on a high quality piece.
The blue diamonds indeed are beautiful...if you buy a real one of quality.

Now if you are looking for an inexpensive souvenier of your trip and NOT for the deal of the century, go ahead and buy something you like. But don't look back. Buy it because you like it and can afford the money you spent.

I would not count on the ship recommended shops. They are not in any way "connected" to the line. They are their own businesses paying the ship to be their frontman. The guarantee is not the end all that it claims.

If you are looking at rings or pendants, look at the setting. That is where MOST unhappy purchasers find the problem. Doesn't matter what stone is in the piece if the setting isn't quality. Do a forum search and you'll see many cases of women losing the stones before they even get home. And if the store does not have an American base, good luck trying to have it replaced.

Moral of the story....
Souvenier yes....deal of the century, no.

St. Thomas
#14
481 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
If you do not have a good jewelry store in your town, it might be worth your while to look for one in a nearby town.

If you only plan to spend a few hundred dollars on a piece of jewelry, as a souvenir of your vacation, St. Thomas may be an OK choice.
For unusual designs, large stones, 18K (or more) gold, I would buy in my own home town from a gemologist.
#15
Canada
3,333 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
My advice is to research prices at home before you go.

My DH bought a watch in St. Thomas two years ago for 30% cheaper than we could buy it here. We got it at Little Switzerland at Havensight Mall. However, I also saw lots of jewellry that I didn't think was a great price.
#16
16,797 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by Autumn3
My advice is to research prices at home before you go.

My DH bought a watch in St. Thomas two years ago for 30% cheaper than we could buy it here. We got it at Little Switzerland at Havensight Mall. However, I also saw lots of jewellry that I didn't think was a great price.
Yes, things like a name brand watch, camera or designer sun glasses are easy to price compare to shops at home. But when looking at precious stones, gold pieces etc. not so easy to do.
#17
Castle Rock CO
5,091 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I've bought plenty of jewelry in the islands and have had good luck. Just remember the current gold prices can really screw up the current prices to be paid so I'm not sure that now is a good time to buy.

In saying that, your reasoning is sound as to why you want to. I would probably do the same. Just be careful and pay what you want and don't be afraid to negotiate and be prepared to walk if they don't. They know when the ships are in and when they leave.
#18
Hanover Pennsylvania
401 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by blindrid
I've bought plenty of jewelry in the islands and have had good luck. Just remember the current gold prices can really screw up the current prices to be paid so I'm not sure that now is a good time to buy.

In saying that, your reasoning is sound as to why you want to. I would probably do the same. Just be careful and pay what you want and don't be afraid to negotiate and be prepared to walk if they don't. They know when the ships are in and when they leave.


This is so true. Don't buy on the first price. They will come down in price. Also if you buy in cash you get even a lower deal. I have several blue diamond pieces from the caribbean and no problems with them. I got great buys on them and I would only buy them in the caribbean. Also most cruiseline ships price match if they have the same item and you find it cheaper on the island. It happen to my son in law. He bought a watch on the ship and saw it cheaper on the island and got back the difference from the cruiseline. Have a great cruise. When you get off the ship I will be getting on.
#19
Hanover Pennsylvania
401 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by Miss Tracey Lacey
Thank you for the advice, I don't plan on blowing a bundle (neither does mom) we have a few nice pieces, and I am a bargain shopper, so if something isn't on sale, I'll usually leave it in the shop.

We are more interested in unique pieces you may not find at home, and do know that you are taking a chance by buying on a cruise.

I am by no means an expert on jewelery but do know a little bit about it, I just think it would make a nice memento of our mother daughter trip to get a matching piece somewhere.
I did a mother daughter cruise back in march with my daughter. We just had a great time but gee I didnot think of us getting the same piece of jewerly as a momento. Thats a great idea. I will remember that next time
#20
Pasadena, MD
1,066 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
St. Thomas gets my vote. Have puchased jewelery from the "Grand Jewelers" several times and the pieces has always appraised much greater that what we paid for. If you go there, tell them the lady with the witch necklace sent you!