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I know it's a mixed bag in some of the ports. Some people have great experiences and some don't. We will visit St Maarten and St. Thomas on an eastern Caribbean itinerary in a couple weeks, and I want to buy something nice for my wife. Does anyone have any favorite shops or sales people in either of those ports? Any shops that should be avoided?

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Yes. On St Thomas go to Dynasty Dazzlers. They have a shop in town and also in the compound. Tell Bimla that Raye recommended her to you. Bimla is the mother of the owner (Raj). They are honest and reputable and will give you a good deal. They stand behind their merchandise. They replaced a stone that I lost from a diamond ring I bought without a question. I highly recommend them.

 

Beware of Diamonds International. They are reputable. I am not suggesting otherwise, but DI is owned by the cruise lines and they tend to have extremely high prices. They do stand behind their mdse but will pay a lot for it.

 

Please do not buy any expensive jewelry on the ship. There have been a few threads about that recently. Among other things, they are way way overpriced.

 

Here's a rule of thumb. If you are buying a good piece of jewelry - $5000 or more - expect that jewelry to be marked up at least 5 times its value. So begin negotiations by cutting the price by 5 and then go from there. The less expensive jewelry won't be marked up as much (less margin) but it will probably be 2 -3 times markup. Walk away....they will come down. Trust me on that.

 

I purchased a diamond tennis bracelet from Bimla that was marked $30k (11 carats). I ended up paying $7500 and it appraised at home for $14,800. Negotiate ! ...even with your "friends".

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I would suggest that you shop with your local jeweler that you have an established pattern of trust.   Buy your wife something very nice and give it to her on your first night at sea.  You know that you are purchased something that she will love and you can trust your purchase will be wise and secure.    

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I bought a diamond ring from Diamonds International, was given an appraisal by them for the ring, valued at $4000, paid $1900 for it. When I returned home I asked my jeweler what he thought. The grade of the diamond they represented on the appraisal was wrong, it was a lesser quality diamond, the value was about what I paid for it. I called them and requested a refund and I did get it but it took two months before I did. I bought a small pinkie right from Columbian Emeralds and the same thing happened, was given an  appraisal sheet and the value was a lot less than Columbian quoted, but I kept that ring.

 

I agree that if you have a good jeweler you might want to buy stateside and not from the ports. If she wears Pandora or Alex & Ani jewelry, the beaded charm bracelets, they are the same price stateside as in the islands and every once in a while you can hit a sale and get a charm or bead for 40% off. I have two Pandora bracelets and they aren't cheap, with beads and charms and the bracelet it is valued at over $500.

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I would suggest that you shop with your local jeweler that you have an established pattern of trust.   Buy your wife something very nice and give it to her on your first night at sea.  You know that you are purchased something that she will love and you can trust your purchase will be wise and secure.    

Thanks! I am actually going to do both!

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I shared my thoughts about shopping for jewelry in Cozumel here http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php/topic/1105-buyer-beware/page-2?hl=orange#entry17897 but I have to say if I was buying something so expensive that I'd be p.o.ed if it was fake or appraised at a much lower value, I'd stick with retailers that have a presence on the mainland, such as EFFY Jewelers (I'm sure there's other companies but that's the only one I can think of right now).  It just seems like I'd have more leverage to get problems solved with a US company vs "Domingos Diamonds, on the pier in beautiful Puerto Wheverevero".

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While it may be nice to go on a trip and come home with new jewelry, I do not believe it represents the best value for most travelers.  In this day and age most items like jewelry can be found much cheaper over the internet, or using internet pricing to work a better deal with a local supplier. Really I cannot see a benefit to purchasing on a cruise for most items. That said, the princess (Reynaline) gets what she wants so sometimes I have made these purchases. And yes it is really nice to see happy look people get when they get new things. 

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My "island jewelry purchase" limit has been $300...and no more.  I feel I can lose that much money and not be to upset.   That being said, I purchased a .75ct Tanzanite stone at DI for $275.    Since it was a loose stone, I had them set it while I visited Belize.   I received a "certificate of value" that was included with the purchase.  I was satisfied.   

 

When I returned home, I decided to do some eBay browsing.   I found a dealer in New York who was offering a 1.13 ct Tanzanite for auction.   They also were a very reputable dealer who had VERY high  (99.9%)  eBay ratings with their customers.   I made a bid of $20....yes, TWENTY bucks and won  the auction.  They delivered the stone and it was exactly as described and included the certificate of authenticity.   Both stones look very good with one with a slightly bluer in color.  Now comes the two way street.....I either got the DEAL of the century at eBay or I really got screwed royally with DI. I am not doing any further investigations in this....sometimes not knowing let's you sleep better.    

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Just curious bcarney. You ended up at $600, how much were they asking in the beginning?  And did your jeweler give you any estimate on how much they thought it was worth?

 

They started at $600 for the ring and $400 for the earrings IIRC.  If I had all cash I probably could have gotten them lower, but most of it had to go on the credit card so that limited my negotiating skills.

 

I didn't get it appraised here.  She'll keep them for life, so whether it's worth $10 or $10,000 it doesn't matter to her, nor to me really.

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