We discovered the family owned "Jewels Forever" on our first-ever visit to St. Thomas in 2004. Ever since then, we have been purchasing the majority of our jewelry from St. Thomas because of the great prices (and no taxes/duty), and specifically from them.
We have always been very happy with this retailer's treatment of us and that of what we've seen of other customers. Their prices can be good, or they can be excellent (read on to see what I mean). As with any retailer in a hot vacation spot, you really have to know how to bargain to get the best price. Whether you're jewelry shopping on vacation, or back home, NEVER, EVER pay the asking or tag price!! Because this is a big cruise ship industry destination, every store seems to always have a "special sale--just for today" for cruise ship passengers. However, don't be fooled by these common gimmicks. Everything's always FOR sale, not necessarily ON sale.
When buying jewelry, follow these basic tips:
1] Know what you want before you hit the stores. Check prices for similar items at home before leaving.
2] Visit several stores in the area. Many will have the same or similar items at prices that can vary tremendously.
3] Check the quality of stones (or the quality and carat weight of the metal used--i.e.: gold, silver, etc.) by asking the jeweler for a "loop" (a jewelers magnifying glass) to more closely examine the stone for flaws, or imperfections (known as "inclusions"), and asking many questions. Check the "Four 'C's": Cut, Clarity, Color, Carat weight by researching these things online at jewelry websites. The Gemological Institute of America's site at: www.gia.edu is a great place to start. While trying the jewelry piece on, don't be afraid to take a couple photos of it being worn, and up close with your camera or cell-phone camera (more on this later).
4] If you like what you see, ask the jeweler for the price and then make a GOOD counter-offer (I usually like to start at 50% of the asking or tagged price...sometimes less if I know it's greatly over-inflated). The worst thing that can happen is they will say "no", or counter your counter-offer. This can go back and forth several times. If you don't feel their offer is of your liking, politely thank them for their time...and start leaving the store. If they suddenly have a "change of heart", and they really want to sell that item that you showed a liking to, they typically WILL try and stop you to continue the bargaining. If not, so be it. Maybe you were unrealistic with your offer, maybe they just don't care. But, you'll never know unless you try.
5] When you've agreed on the price, ask the jeweler to include a detailed appraisal of the item(s) for insurance purposes, AND ALWAYS USE A CREDIT CARD!! The credit card will always give you protections that you will not receive with cash, checks, travelers checks or most debit cards. You will generally get the best rates on currency transactions by doing this as well.
I've seen a scattering of "bad reviews" and "horror stories" of folks who feel they were taken advantage of or cheated. This can happen ANYWHERE! Remember, it's always "Buyer Beware". Remember what I mentioned about taking some photos of the item you wanted to purchase? Here's the reason: You're helping to protect yourself against a possible "switch" by an unscrupulous seller. There's nothing worse than having them package up your purchase for your return trip to the cruise ship, only to discover after you've pulled out of port, that you have an empty package or a completely different piece of jewelry in your possession. This way you are not second-guessing yourself. Then, by using your credit card to make the purchase as I always recommend, you can file a claim with your credit card company and not have to worry about getting something you did not expect. Further, if you have a loss of the item somewhere between the shop and your return home, you have some proof for your credit card company which may provide you no-charge insurance through a third party (check with your credit card company such as VISA, MaterCard, Amex, etc. about this by calling the toll free number on the back of the card), or for your homeowners insurance carrier.
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