Buying jewelry on vacation? Nobody likes to feel ripped off,but imagine how bad you would feel if you were scammed while on your honeymoon or vacation! What should be the most fantastic memories of your life, tarnished by some devious individual, who parted you from your money while you were off your guard on holiday mode.
Beware! Many who honeymoon or vacation on luxury cruises are being scammed into buying ‘high end’ jewelry under false pretenses. In fact the problem is so widespread that only last week Jeff Rosen, of NBC News, did an investigation into jewelry sold to US vacationers in the Mexican resort of Cozumel.
People are not being robbed per se, but when you discover that the $2000 diamond ring you bought is actually a fake, which is often,you can do very little about it. It doesn’t take an expert fraudster to convince customers that a ring, earrings, bracelet or necklace, you are getting is a bargain. An additional incentive is that prices for many luxury goods like jewelry are low in the Caribbean due to the duty free and no sales tax policies in the region.
Think Before You Buy!
If you are tempted to buy an item of fine jewelry while on vacation, here are a few tips that might stop you from getting your fingers burnt. The best advice is to be a smart shopper, even when on holiday. Don’t let your guard down just because you’re in shorts and flip-flops. Any purchase decision over $100 should be given due consideration. Many times, your local jewelry store will offer better quality and pricing when it comes to fine jewelry.
Plan Before You Go
Do not get caught up in holiday fever, and be led astray by the clever sales techniques and promises of quality at huge discount rates. Prior to setting out on your cruise make sure you have decided what it is you really want to come back with. Also know how much you want, and can afford, to spend. Far too many people come back with expensive baubles – and bills – that they did not want. If you’re looking to purchase fine jewelry on your trip, make sure you’ve researched the pricing of the item at your local jewelry store and online. Go see the real deal in person and make sure you can spot a fake before you decide on purchasing in another country.
Social Media Presence
If you really must buy on vacation, see if the jewelry business you are working with has a website or social media accounts. Company pages on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Google+ are all signs of a real business. On these pages you will be able to read what people are saying about this company.
Reputable businesses will have many social accounts because they want to get noticed and stay connected to their customers. They do not shy away from public attention and have public sites where customers or other individuals can comment and share their experience. Non reputable businesses often don’t even have a website. It’s buyer beware with these stores because there is no credible way of knowing how past customers have fared with their purchases.
Check to see if the jeweler has a testimonials or reviews page on their website. There should be plenty of reviews from numerous sources – However, its not always easy to spot weather the reviews are genuine. There is a good chance testimonials are real if they include a photo of the product purchased and if there are customer reviews on multiple sites.
Even better are independent reviews. This is more likely to apply to larger jewelry businesses and chains, rather than single store fronts in cruise ship ports. It is still worth checking some of the more well known sites, such as Yelp and the Better Business Bureau, just to see if they are listed. If you’re buying jewelry online (or any product for that matter), always check with Trustpilot first. They specialize in reviews from people who have made real purchases online.
All genuine high value gemstones (sapphire,diamond, emerald, ruby) should have accompanying identification paperwork. How true the information is in the reports you see is debatable, unless it’s from a well known reputable jewelry store with a tradition of honestly.
That is why you should always ask for a report from a reputable independent lab to make sure the stone or jewelry item is what they say it is. The Gemological Association of America is the industry standard. It may cost a little extra, because the GIA will charge for an inspection, but if a jewelry shop is unwilling to guarantee their product against a GIA test report, even if you are willing to pay the fee, then this is a huge red flag.
Make sure the company has a return policy that is clearly listed on their website or written out in a document that you can keep. It is important that as the customer buying fine jewelry, you understand this policy and, at the very least, receive basic documentation describing the item you are purchasing in some detail (grade and quality of gemstone, metal type, etc). Here at The Natural Sapphire Company, we get all of our stones tested in our laboratory by trained gemologists.
Another thing to keep in mind about shopping for jewelry on vacation: You may have to pay taxes on it when you return home. When Rossen’s NBC team returned to the U.S. and went through customs, they had to pay almost $300 in U.S. taxes on their jewelry purchases. Check your home duty free allowances. The money you saved on tax free purchases might vanish as import duty.
Leave It To The Professionals
Unless you’re a trained gemologist with many years of experience buying and selling stones in the trade, never buy raw or rough stones. They are notoriously difficult to detect in terms of their actual chemical composition and mineral makeup. Rough stones almost always has to be inspected in a lab to understand it’s true worth.
A trustworthy dealer of jewelry and gems will always disclose any type of treatment present in their gems. They will also take the time to educate their customer and will answer your questions honestly. Don’t be afraid ask questions when you are considering a high priced item. After reading this guide you might discover you know more than you thought!
Much of what you’ve just read is good practice when making any jewelry purchases, whether you’re at home or on vacation. The key is keeping your feet on the ground when on holiday. If you can there is no reason you can’t have a fabulous vacation and make excellent jewelry purchases that you will enjoy for years to come.