Recently on our cruise to the Panama Canal we stopped in Cartagena and I found a great cabbie to take us simply around town. His name was Juan as in the coffee. He will be outside the port waiting and won't come up to you bugging you to use him. We asked him to simply take us around the city and we listed a few things we wanted to stop at. One of these places was the factory where they made the emeralds into jewelry from the raw mineral.
We proceeded to what looked like a very secure house in the middle of the block only to find Jose Villalba there to great us. He is a VP of the company and gave us a personal tour of the operations as well as the history of the emerald and their company. it was as if you went to the mines to visit. From the raw mineral to the finished product we spend about 1 hour plus there and it was worth it.
So before you buy anything from the port area which has bags of so called emeralds for as little as $10 spend the $25 for the two of us that we did and get a really nice ring made the way you want with the stone you want and very inexpensive. I told Jose I would post this about his company as it is a place to see and don't bother booking an excursion through the ship which cost about $49 pp as this entire trip cost me a $25 cab ride and a very nice tip for what Juan showed us.
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