Ok ladies and men. Where should I shop for a nice pair of solitares for my wife. Tell me about color, cut and clarity. Also carot and cost. Who should I go see and who should I avoid. We are going on the Dawn in Feburary and will also be visiting Grand Cayman and St Martin.
Do your homework before you leave. Decide what you want and go to local jewelry stores for prices. Sometimes you can get a better deal at home than you can on the islands. For instance last year my husband bought me a 2 ct diamond tennis bracelet. It was almost $200 cheaper at home than it was on any of the islands that we stopped at. Another year, the best deal was on the ship. Hope this helps and good luck.
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If you live near NY I'd suggest Fortunoffs , or the Diamond District or inRhode Island-Ross Simons or a good local jeweler that you trust. A diamond is a very big purchase & the islands are far away if you have a problem.I know there will be many posting about bargains-- that appraised much higher at home but I am too wary. Yes I would buy gold, truq, even other gems--but would really hesitate at a diamond unless you could get an independent appraisal & evaluation done...
As stated above. Do your homework locally. Know Color, clarity etc etc and the cost of EXACTLY what you are looking for . The brief stays on each island are not a place or time to begin your research. Compare prices on the ship as well.
The shopping "capitals" of the Caribbean are St Thomas and St Martin. Many folks have their preferences and many will steer you to one of the hundreds of small shops on either island. Funny, Gram, my wife, leaves her major diamond purchases for Fortunoff's as mentioned above. When shopping in the Caribbean she shops in one of three places Diamonds International, Little Switzerland and Coumbian Emeralds. Some have more than one outlet on each Island. Be prepared to bargain in even these shops , do your homework in advance, be prepared to walk away, there is always another shop, and always another store back in the US.
as the others have told you, do your homework before you leave. Attending the port shopping lectures is also a good idea, very informative. I have had very good luck at Royal Caribbean and Diamonds Internation.
Do your homework before you go and know what you are looking for. We have bought diamonds and jewelry in St. Thomas for over 10 years and found that a store called "Lucky's" was the best we could do. Much better values than the "chains" pushed by the cruise line. If they don't have exactly what you want they will call other diamond dealers in town and find it for you while you wait. Remember that the cruise lines are compensated for recommending the companies that they feature on the ship. Lucky's will even send you items after you are home on evaluation and not charge you until you decide it is really what you want. I have bought watches such as Movado over the phone after I saw the model I wanted at home.
Don't forget to negotiate no matter where you decide to buy.
My husband and I went to Grand Jewelers. They treated us well.
You should still familiarize yourself with Cut, Clarity, Carat, Color and the FIFTH important C is COST. Make sure you ask to see the stones with the jewelers loop and ask them where the flaws are in specific.
We were with a group of about 18, and one of our group had been to this jeweler before, let them know we were coming and they sent taxis to the seaport to bring us into town, free and with no obligation. Most of us bought something there, they then took our group by taxi to Magen's Bay and even waited a couple hours to bring us back to the ship in the afternooon. What a treat.
The ring (3/4 ct solitaire and baguette ring) that we purchased appraised locally for more than twice what we paid. I would definitely go back!
Diamonds International seemed to have some very good deals (in comparison to locally here in So Cal), but as an FYI, I did make a purchase in St Martin at Ballerina Jewelers who were very accomodating. This was our 22nd anniversary and I promised my wife a ring so we did do some planning beforehand on what we wanted and we were very happy with our purchase.
We just got back from Costa Maya and Cozumel where I looked into Diamonds at all the Diamonds International stores.
Then I went down to local jewelers in Colorado Springs.
The prices were comparable, but the stone selection was better in the caribbean.
The bottom line is I don't think you'll save that much - I wasn't that impressed.
Two tips I learned, among others, during the diamond seminar on board:
If you do shop, plan on spending several hours looking at stones through a loupe. The grading does not account for the color or location of the inclusions - so for example, if you are looking for a ring stone, a VS1 or VS2 with a black inclusion in the table would be more expensive than an SI1 or SI2 with a clear, but bigger, inclusion under the prongs or on the edge. I've even seen I1 or I2 stones with inclusions on a facet cut that look better than an SI1 with a black inclusion in the table. Every diamond is different.
If you are mounting in yellow gold DO NOT BUY a colorless diamond. Buy down on the color scale (G,H or I or even lower). You'll never notice the difference.
we have had really good luck with "Ballerina Jewelers" in St. Martin and St.Thomas. We have boughten a lot of jewelery, rings, bracelets, etc. and have had them appraised when we got back to the states and we really got great deals!!
WE Have also bought in St. Thomas with Ballerina Jewelers. They are wonderful and have a nice selection. Do not go where the ship suggests as they get a kick back for sending the passengers and you will end up paying more. Also, any purchases of good stones and jewelry made on the ship gets reported to customs and you will be paying duty to them on anything over 1200.00 Hope this helps........C
Although I haven't personally shopped here, I have heard through other boards that Jewel's Salon at AHRise in St. Thomas is a reputable jeweler. They are known for "bundling" where they will throw in another piece of jewelry at no cost if they can't come down enough on the item you want. This is especially true of Rolex watches, which are not a great bargain due to limitations from the manufacturer. However, when they throw in a diamond tennis bracelet it makes the deal much sweeter!
I purchased a beautiful tanzanite and opal ring from Cardow's Jewelers in St. Thomas. The saleswoman was very nice and knowledgeable. We shopped in many of the stores recommended by Carnival (Diamonds International and Columian Emeralds), but I found some of their items to look very cheap.
I get a catalog in the mail from Cardow's and compare their prices with jewelers where I live, and find their prices to be comparable.
Just as others have stated, know what you are looking for, and what prices are before you shop.
I am assuming from how you worded your question, you are buying diamond stud earings. Coming from someone who knows the Fortunoff family personally (went to high school with some of the kids), I can tell you that you can get better prices in St Thomas if you know what you are doing. I have been going to Dynasty Jewelers in the Havensight Mall in St. Thomas for about 7 or 8 years. The last 2 times, I bought 2 different types of diamond wedding bands. One had to be custom ordered because it could not be resized properly, and the interesting thing is that their items come from NY. I am sure, from manufacturers in the Diamond DIstrict in Manhattan, which someone else mentioned (47th Street). My original diamond engagement ring is from there, but if you don't have a friend in the business, you really can't be sure of what you are getting. At Dynasty you should and can bargain. The second wedding band I bought was much cheaper there than I could get the same thing for at the "Buy it now" price on e-bay. You may want to check that to get an idea of what you should be paying. For a solitaire ring you may want to get a V V S stone, but for earings it is not that important, and if the stones look good to your eye, and you can get them for a price you are willing to pay, go for it. There is the VVS 1 & 2, then VS, then IS. G H & I color are fine. Cut is personal taste, and carat determines the cost. However, there is one difference in the cut/carat ratio that can make a big difference. A shallow cut stone will look much bigger to the eye while its carat size, which is a weight, is less. For example, my engagement ring is a little over 2 carats, but because it is a shallow cut pear shape, it looks more like 3 carats. Either way, diamonds are a great investment. Although mine is over 30 years old, and I don't know how another investment would be, the ring is now appraised for 10 times what it originally cost.
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The best way to be informed is go to a jeweler at home, and see what you can do as far as prices..You may be surprised at just how good you can do..Take the knowledge you gleened there, and make sure when you are in the Caribbean, you compare apples to apples. Buying something far from home can sometime be difficult, if a problem arises...Get your appraisal,and when you get back home see how a stateside appraisal compares..rememeber an appraisal is only an opinion.
I worked in a jewlely store for years, and saw some unhappy people after they got the word on their purchases...
The owness is on you to do your due dilligence....
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