It's the season to escape this cold and soak up some rays in the Caribbean! As a result, we appraise many new "cruise" jewelry pieces that are to be added to homeowners insurance policies. Unfortunately, we have learned that sometimes the best scam stories come from the newly tanned vacationer.
Not all wares sold in ports are scams! Many port city jewelers are honest people who dedicate their life to fine quality and customer service. However, there are also elaborate selling systems that take advantage of the tourist. Vacations are supposed to leave you on a high - not with regrets. Here are some guidelines for purchasing jewelry in any high tourism area that hopefully will enable you to relax and have fun.
1. Read the return policy - and the fine print. While up front it may look like a company will guarantee a full refund if the item isn't as represented, there may be extended stipulations on the return. One common example is that the company will not take a return if a diamond is two color grades off, but they will if it is three. If a company sells diamonds with such sloppy grading that they have to add a special clause to their return policy, where else are they cutting corners in grading and manufacturing?
2. Know what country you are purchasing from and the laws of that country. While a lead glass filled diamond is required to be disclosed as such in the US, it isn't in others. Besides effecting the value of a diamond, it can impact its longevity. For example, a fracture filled diamond can lose its clear look and become quite frosty if not cared for properly.
3. Do a bit of research on the company you are purchasing from and on the item itself. "Exclusive" and a store's "name branded" jewelry is also something to consider. Is the value in the special name alone or is it really a rare cut or gemstone? Rare does not always mean something is worth more.
4. Don't forget to factor in your import taxes in your calculations when trying to purchasing an item for a discount. Also, any store claiming to be "wholesale" at a high volume tourism port is not.
5. Use a credit card. You can dispute the charge if needed.
6. Buy with your head, not your emotions alone. If you ever feel like you are purchasing a once in a lifetime deal and you can feel your adrenaline pumping you should probably pass. The old saying is true everywhere: "If something looks like it is too good to be true, it probably is".
Bottom line: Consider the price of your vacation jewelry to be like the cost of your cruise line or resort - you are paying for an experience.
When you come home from your cruise and rip a hole in your new Bermuda t-shirt, is it the end of the world? No. It also shouldn't be devastating if jewelry you purchased isn't quite the quality or value you thought it was.
Remember, if you see something you like and it is within your budget - buy it! Jewelry is the tangible expression of your feelings about yourself or to another. Celebrate it.
P.S. Please bring back a few rays of sunshine! Winter feels extra long this year.