Skip to Content

Why Is Jewelry Cheaper In The Caribbean?

If you’re planning a cruise to the Caribbean, one of the things you might be looking forward to is buying some jewelry. After all, what’s a vacation without a little souvenir shopping? The good news is that you can often find good deals on jewelry in Caribbean ports. But why is that? Let’s take a closer look at why is jewelry cheaper in the Caribbean.

Why Is Jewelry Cheaper in the Caribbean | photo of display cases filled with jewelry in St. Thomas
Jewelry store in St. Thomas, USVI

What Factors Into Potentially Lower Prices?

To understand why jewelry is cheaper in the Caribbean, you must understand what is potentially causing the jewelry to be priced lower than back home. In addition to being more affordable, the Caribbean also offers a wide variety of jewelry. Therefore, many people like to buy jewelry in the Caribbean while on holiday. 

Click here to subscribe

But why is jewelry in the Caribbean cheaper than jewelry in the states? There are a couple of reasons why jewelry is cheaper in the Caribbean. The main reason for this is that the jewelry you buy in the Caribbean is tax-free and duty-free. For items that typically come with a high price tag, eliminating taxes and duties can amount to substantial savings.

Many people assume that tax-free and duty-free are synonyms. However, these terms mean different things. So what is the difference between tax-free and duty-free buying? 

Why Is Jewelry Cheaper In The Caribbean: Duty-Free Vs. Sales Tax-Free

Duty-free purchases are often made at international transit areas, such as airports or cruise ships. You should be aware that there are generally two kinds of duties — ones assessed by the country of origin and ones assessed by your own country when you return home. In most instances, “duty-free” items are free from duties that would otherwise be applied by the country of origin. You may nevertheless still be subject to an assessment of duty when you return own if you exceed the applicable duty allowance. In the United States, the duty allowance is generally $800 per person and members of the same family may aggregate their allowances. (You’ll receive higher allowances when shopping in St. Thomas and other U.S. Virgin Islands.)Therefore, duty-free items are often cheaper than at home, where import and/or export taxes have already been applied. 

It’s important to remember that there is usually a limit on the number of duty-free shopping you may do abroad. You will pay duty fees on those if you purchase more than the allowed items. This also applies to any jewelry you may buy in the Caribbean. Therefore, you must check what the allotted duty-free items in your country are.

Tax-free items refer to those items that you buy for which you don’t pay sales taxes. While duty-free items are mostly also tax-free, it’s still possible that you may be required to pay taxes on items you buy duty-free. Fortunately, jewelry bought in the Caribbean is tax-free and duty-free, meaning you don’t pay import or export taxes on the items when returning home as long as you are within your applicable exemptions. 

Because the jewelry you can buy in the Caribbean is tax and duty-free, you will usually pay significantly less for the same pieces as you would back home. For example, some research suggests that you can save more than 15% to 20% on jewelry bought in the Caribbean than you would pay in the USA. 

Best Caribbean Islands To Buy Jewelry

Of course, there are many islands in the Caribbean. While you can buy affordable jewelry on all these islands, some are more geared towards serving tourists looking for a good deal than others. So, these are islands in the Caribbean where you typically can find the best deals:

  1. Barbados – the best place to buy jewelry is in Bridgetown
  2. The Bahamas – Nassau is the most popular city for buying jewelry
  3. St. Maarten – Front Street in Phillipsburg has some of the best jewelry on the island
  4. U.S Virgin Islands – you can find the best jewelry shops in St. Thomas
  5. Dominican Republic – Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo are the best spots to find jewelry

In addition to these locations, you can also find jewelry in nearly every port in the Caribbean islands. Some offer premium jewelry from top brands, while others focus on locally made jewelry that includes gems harvested on and around the island. Regardless of your preference, you will surely find exactly what you are looking for in the Caribbean.

Do Advanced Research

Although you can find jewelry for better prices in the Caribbean, you should be aware that there are also many sellers who take advantage of uninformed clients. (That’s not unique to the Caribbean!) Therefore, it’s worth researching the price of the jewelry you are interested in before going to the Caribbean. 

By knowing what you would pay for the jewelry back home, you can determine if it is a better price on the islands. Also, be sure to do some research on the best jewelers to buy from. Consult with friends or family who have purchased jewelry in the Caribbean to give you a better idea of where to shop. 

Suppose you are coming to the Caribbean on a cruise. In that case, the ship will also present seminars about jewelry shopping in the Caribbean that may be helpful for first-time visitors. They will also recommend some shops to visit for jewelry shopping. However, you should take those recommendations with a grain of salt as there may be some incentives involved in providing referrals.

Tips On Buying Jewelry

When shopping for jewelry in the Caribbean, it’s essential to take your time when you arrive on an island. Many shops will sell the same pieces, allowing you to bargain for a better price. In addition, if you research before coming, you will know what the jewelry is worth at home, and you can use this as a baseline to determine if the price is good. 

You should absolutely bargain for a better price. Don’t hesitate to do so. Nor should you be afraid to walk away if the price is too steep. You will find the same jewelry piece for a better price at another shop or on another island. Furthermore, while you may be looking for Cartier diamonds or precious cut emeralds, don’t forget to look at the local jewelry pieces too. 

These often contain locally harvested gems; some are equally as beautiful and precious as coveted diamond pieces. Local jewelry is sure to make an excellent gift or souvenir.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is The Caribbean A Good Place To Buy Diamonds?

The Caribbean can be an excellent place to buy diamonds, as you can find many diamond and jewelry shops on these islands. The diamonds are of excellent quality and are often more affordable than the stones you can buy back home because they are duty and tax-free. One of the best islands for diamonds is St. Thomas.

Is The Caribbean A Good Place To Buy Watches?

In addition to buying jewelry in the Caribbean, this is a great spot to visit if you want a high-quality watch. Thanks to the duty-free shipping, you can often find a designer watch for a lower price in the Caribbean than you could back home. However, research the prices and brands you are interested in before watch shopping in the Caribbean.

Should I Buy Jewelry In The Bahamas?

There are many great jewelry shops in the Bahamas, where you are sure to find the piece of your dreams, possibly for a better price. Nassau and Lucaya Marketplace on the Grand Bahama island are the top jewelry spots on the island. They will likely have what you are looking for. 

Is Jewelry Cheaper In St. Maarten?

St. Maarten is one of the Caribbean islands where you can buy sales tax-free and duty-free jewelry. This results in a lower price for most jewelry. However, do your research before visiting St. Maarten, as not all the jewelry on this island is cheaper. 

Keep up with the latest cruise tips and insights! Follow us on Pinterest: