Is Duty Free Really Just Full of It?

Duty-free diamonds are full of it.

Many people feel that buying duty-free jewelry at vacation destinations is a good deal. Don’t buy diamonds at cruise ports because you’ll get ripped off.  Just google Diamonds International Reviews and you can read for yourself.  Complaints range from misleading, inaccurate grading, inaccurate carat weights to downright lying.

duty free shopping
duty-free shopping at cruise ports

Don’t get me wrong, if you would like to buy something inexpensive as a souvenir for a few hundred dollars, go ahead. When buying something for a thousand, a few thousand or several thousand, don’t waste your time. When you purchase in a stress-free environment you can take your time, do your research and compare the product.   Salespeople have trained in high-pressure sales at cruise ports and vacation spots. Vacation salespeople try to get you to purchase now because they know you there only a limited time.  If they drop the price, don’t think they are doing you a favor. The reduction of their price isn’t in your favor and depending on your negotiating skills; the end price may be significantly different from the initial price.

The benefit of duty-free.

First of all the only benefit of buying duty-free is to save the tax.  The sales taxes in the United States are 6 – 8.5%. Houston sales tax is 8.25%.  If you buy a piece of jewelry for, let’s say, $3500 the potential savings is $288.75.  Vacation duty-free diamond rings always end up having problems with them.

Now, you are on your own. You take it back home and your local jeweler charges you $100 to size it, then he points out some imperfections in the ring. If you want those fixed, well that could be more.  What about future issues with the ring?  Well, you will have to pay for those as well.  So, your initial savings of $288 is already being cut in half. Plus, you spent some of your day being hard pressure sold instead of enjoying your destination. As I mentioned earlier, if you see a ring for $100 or $200 and you want it as a souvenir, go ahead.

Next, what about the value you ended up getting.  Could you have bought the same piece locally at the same price? Probably. Read the plethora of complaints about not getting what they were promised.  There are tons of complaints about misrepresentations.  These range from over representing carat weights, quality or value.  Remember, these salespeople will say whatever they need to, to get the sale.

Speaking from personal experience

I was personally on a cruise and was told by a passenger they were in a store and they told him he could make $5,000 by purchasing this piece. What the salesperson was suggesting was he commit insurance fraud. He would buy the piece for $2500, the jeweler would furnish an appraisal for $5,000. The salesperson then suggested he lose the item and claim it on insurance and collect $5,000!

The cruise personnel encouraged to purchase from preferred vendors. What this means is the cruise line is getting paid to recommend that company. They assure you they are bonified vendors and will give you a good deal. I will tell you if you have a problem and call Carnival or Royal Caribbean they will not stand behind ANY vendor, preferred or not.  You can find this to be true by reading reviews online. I know this to be true from actual customers coming in and telling me their stories.

diamonds rip off duty free
Duty-free diamonds are a rip-off.                       

Bottom line, don’t waste your time buying fine jewelry at cruise ports or vacation destinations. If you buy from a wholesaler like Houston Diamond Outlet you can get a great deal, save money AND have local service.


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