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samkmm

Emeralds in Cartagena

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We will be cruising to Cartagena in April. I am a huge fan of Emeralds. As Columbia is a supplier of the beautiful stone, does anyone have any information about purchasing them there?

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Hello Sammkmm,

What fun! We did this in 1999, buying the stone for my engagement ring. We hired one of the "approved" taxi drivers at the port - turned out to be an English-speaking guide (aka body guard) and his non-English-speaking brother-in-law driving an aged Cadillac. We told him we wanted to shop and possibly buy an emerald. They took us to an open-air shopping area with everything from tourist traps for the requisite T-shirts to a couple of nice jewelry stores. We bought at Greenfire Emeralds. The paperwork I have says Pierino Gallo Shopping Center, Upstairs Plaza (it was indeed upstairs). Our local jeweler was complimentary of the stone's quality.

 

The guide showed us around the building to familiarize us with the stores, and was always on the same level of the building as we were, but did not come into the shops with us. He always made sure he knew where we were and we knew where he was. It was a very pleasant experience, everyone was very nice, and we never felt threatened.

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after investigating, we also bought at greenfire. Our local jeweler was quite impressed with quality and price we paid.

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I spent a week in Cartagena at the Hotel Caribe, there are tons of jewelery stores along the main drag. Columbian emeralds are very milky looking compared to the deeper green that I prefer, but I managed to find stuff to buy :D

 

I bought a bracelet for 200USD 14K gold with 6 emeralds. It was appraised bya jeweler at home for 1400.00. I also bought lever back emerald earrings for 350.00 that were appraised for 1000.00. I didn't even barter - just paid the marked price inthe jewelry store.

 

*Warning* watch for guys selling perfume on the street (Oscar de La Renta) etc... they are the perfect packaging, sealed etc... but when you open them they are a plastic bottle of fluid and NOT perfume.

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Many sources talking about some of the great deals that can be found on emeralds in Cartagena. But the more I read the more I learn that it is quite easy to hide defects in stones that may not be discovered for months. I've read all of the notes on this topic that have been posted on CC. Has anyone found a reliable store in Cartagena? (So far, there are 2 recommendations for a shop run by "Mr Emerald") Any other stores? Any tips? Thanks!

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Both times I bought emeralds in Cartagena, I used the store "Green Fire". A cab there should not cost you not more than $10.00 US. I say this, because when I first approached a cab at the port they quoted me $60 RT. I told them I would get back on the ship before I would pay that much, and we finally settled on $10. I was definitely not the first person off the ship, and I've always wondered how many folks paid that inflated price. Pays to ask before you get in the cab...

Back to Green Fire, I don't think they are a bargain, per se, but I felt good about their emeralds, and I have had them appraised since I bought them and they were genuine and worth more than I paid.

One other nice note, the first time I went there, I bought a ring for my Mom that didn't fit her once I got home. I tried getting it sized, but my jeweler said it wouldn't be possible due to the setting of the stones. I put it in my safety deposit box and figured I'd give it to someone else sometime. A few years later, I again found myself on a cruise including Cartagena, this time with my Mom. I packed the ring and receipt, and when we got to Cartagena, off we went by taxi to Green Fire, about a 20 min. trip from the port.

I showed them Mom's ring and the receipt, and the manager agreed to take the ring back for a full refund, and they helped her pick out a ring that could be sized up, and then sized it up while we waited. The new ring was about $100 more, but well worth the smile on my Mom's face. I recommend them all the time because of this excellent service.

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After investigating, we also bought at Greenfire an emerald about 10 years ago. It was between them and another, but both were recommended, I paid partially with Am Exp (so I could get a refund in the US if found to be less than represented )and upon our return to the US, we brought the ring to our regular jeweler who appraised it at more than double of what we paid. Most emeralds have flaws, so you should do your homework before hand and compare cut , view and brilliance of the color of the stone. A clearer more brillient smaller stone is worth alot more than a larger one w more flaws, less brilliance etc.

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We will be traveling to Cartagena aboard the Island Princess in early February, 2008. I would really like to get an emerald. Is this the best place to get one or are they about the same price in the States? I had read on one of these boards that the shops for reputable emeralds are about an $8 to $10 taxi drive from the ship. They also said that all the taxi's require the use of Colombian currancy,which is understandable. I would also like to see the old city and possibly shop for local crafts.

 

I am leaning toward a ship tour. They have one that is called Cartagena shopping and La Popa Monastery. The shopping is at the Dungeons and at a store specializing in emeralds. The tour is 3.5 hours. Will this tour see the city and allow adequate time to shop? Thanks for your help!

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Regarding currency for taxis: all the taxis that are available in the port (the drivers wear light blue shirts with "taxi taxi taxi" written all over them _ the shirts, not the taxi drivers :-) accept US cash payment. You don´t need to exchange dollars for pesos. The same goes for any of the shops in town that do any tourism trade.

 

The most important emerald venue in Cartagena is the Pierino Gallo Center in the new part of town, 15 minutes by cab from the ship. All of the ship´s recommended shopping is located there on this two-level shopping center. You can comparison-shop for emeralds between all the recommended stores (and a considerable number of non-recommended shops as well), all within a few steps of each other.

Mounted emeralds (and not just loose stones) are duty-free into the United States under the umbrella of a US-Colombia tax treaty called ATPDEA.

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We returned a few days ago from the Coral 10-day partial transit of the Canal.

 

In Cartagena, we opted for a Princess tour (#100A), Best of Cartagena and Fortress. This was a very good tour, and had the 2 stops for shopping as well: one at the Dungeons, and one at a more upscale area with lots of jewelry/emerald shops. Many people on our tour purchased emeralds. The tour lasted almost the entire time we were in port, which was fine by us. It included the large fortress in the old walled city, the cathedral, naval musuem, folkloric dancing, La Popa, and a walk thru the old city streets to the cathedral. It was a very nice tour and I recommend it.

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Did similiar tour as Gloriaf and bought an emerald with savings about 50-60% from my jeweler in US (which we checked upon returning to US). I strongly recommend doing your homework as to who are reputable dealers and only buy from them. In fact we used our Am Ex card with a dealer who had a place in the US so that we had recourse in case of a problem.

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The most important emerald venue in Cartagena is the Pierino Gallo Center in the new part of town, 15 minutes by cab from the ship. All of the ship´s recommended shopping is located there on this two-level shopping center. You can comparison-shop for emeralds between all the recommended stores (and a considerable number of non-recommended shops as well), all within a few steps of each other.

Mounted emeralds (and not just loose stones) are duty-free into the United States under the umbrella of a US-Colombia tax treaty called ATPDEA.

 

Is the Pierino Gallo Center accessible. IOW's are there elevators to the 2nd floor where the emerald shops are? Otherwise after some more studying I plan on buying my emeralds at William's Emerald's at the Dungeons. We were in Cartegena earlier this month but it was a learning eexpidition when it came to gems. We'll be going back in April and I plan on supporting accessible shops as long as the gems are good and valuable. It's number 18 in Los Bovedos.

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I had spent a lot of time reading notes about Cruise Critic members buying emeralds from Mr Emerald and reporting good evaluations from jewelers back in the US. We were on the Infinity in late Oct early Nov of 2007. We saw lots of emeralds for sale along the ship's tour but thought the ones at Mr Emerald's place looked better (fewer inclusions, deeper color).

 

We bought a VERY nice one. When we got home and took it to our local jeweler (who has all the degrees and credentials) he first warned us he hated doing appraisals on gems bought on cruise ship trips because they were so often lousy stones.

 

With our emerald he thought it to be top notch and worth 1/3 more than we paid!

 

How good is Mr Emerald? We had talked for a bit and had lived in the same town for many years and gone to UC Berkeley at the same time. On the day we were there the phone lines to American Express were down. He let us take the gem with only a slip of paper with his Wachovia bank account written on it. Of course I made the payment the day we got home. Amazing! Here is a link: http://www.misteremerald.com/

 

I have no $$ ties at all. I'm just an amazed and VERY satisfied customer. Highly recommended!

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Should have pointed out the Mr Emerald is Lee Miles (who also arranges tours).

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His stores are on the second floor of a mall with no elevator. Disabled cruisers must be carried up 21 steps. Just a FYI. But he does come highly recommended.

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We were in Cartagena on a Panama Canal cruise last October '07. My wonderful husband bought me a beautiful mounted Emerald from Mister Emerald in the Pierino Gallo Plaza. Come to find out he is from West Texas and has a brother in San Antonio.....I feel that I got an extremely good price on the piece we bought and that he was very honest. We plan to do this cruise again and I plan to contact him in advance for another something special. He is on Princess approved shopping list.~~you will love Cartagena.

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I would very much like to get an emerald (either set or not) when I'm there next Dec., but I have no idea how much to expect to pay.

 

How much would it cost and for what size of a reasonable good one? Can they set them into a small sculpture instead of just for jewelry?

 

Any help is appreciated.

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It all depends on the quality of the stone and its size. Expect to pay about $2200 for a top notch stone (1 carat) in a nice setting. Send an e mail to Mr Emerald via his web site for details on putting a stone into a unique location.

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I have read somewhere of people getting coffee bean pendants in Cartagena. Do these have an emerald chip in them and what sort of price are they?

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