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Jewelry fiasco

Discussion in 'Royal Caribbean International' started by conniecat, May 10, 2004.

  1. conniecat

    conniecat Guest

    Just returned from the Eastern Caribbean on the Explorer. We listened to the port shopping talks, and bought the coupon book. Only went to the shops recommended by RCCL. My sister-in-law finally found a ruby and diamond tennis bracelet in Omni International in St Thomas. When she got home, she had it appraised for her insurance. Lo and behold, 2 rubies were so cracked they were surprised they had stayed in the settings, and 4 of the diamonds were so flawed that the appraiser is not even sure they are diamonds. Right away, she called RCCL to inform them, like Sandra the shopping guide said to do, but she has not had anyone give her any help. She wrote Omni, and put a hold on her charge card. Now she has been told that the cruise line will probably not do a thing to help her. Has anyone else had trouble with Omni, and if so, what happened? Any suggestions? Needless to say she is very perturbed. thanks, connie
  2. donato

    donato Guest

    Good lesson here to be learned here.
    Why would anyone buy an expensive piece of jewelry thousands of miles from home, in a place they have never been, probably can never get back to, from a person they have never shopped with before?
    I bet 90% of the jewelry sold in St. Thomas is of similar quality, but very few people ever get it appraised.
    Like they say, Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.
  3. Trish1c

    Trish1c Guest

    Connie --

    I'm sorry about your experience.

    It won't help you but it has always been my understanding that the "recommended" shops are commercials; it is not like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The cruise line does not investigate the reputation of these places, it simply accepts $$$ from the jeweler to enable the jeweler to advertise to passangers.

    If your sister is really preterbed, have her do some research to find a good lawyer in St. Thomas. It is a US terrritory & governed by our Federal District Courts. If there are good consumer fraud laws, she may get some help that way.
  4. Barry

    Barry Guest

    We have bought several items from them-all appraised above what we paid by around 20% or so NOT including tax :). The key to me is to educate yourself-take the 'Loop' and examine the quality yourself. Google 'how to identify quality diamonds-a good place to start is:

    Ex:When we bought a diamond bracelet and I asked to see the loop and take a closer look they didn't flinch. You can clearly see these 'flaws' and a crack would look HUGE and you could see it no problem. Look at several and pick the one that has the fewest flaws (sometimes they are priced the same)

    Yes, let the buyer beware~but the Mall jewlery stores have some crappie stones too-(not cracked mind u but for sure occlusions are there) just like anywhere. Jennifer our assistant used to work for one part time and I've heard the horror stories firsthand ;)
  5. Griffen

    Griffen Guest

    This seems like the Omni's fault. RCL didn't have anything to do with it, except recommend the shop.
  6. diverdiver

    diverdiver Guest

    Anytime you buy an expensive piece of jewellry, you should ask for - and receive - a GIA certificate. All cruise lines "recommend" certain jewellry stores because they get a kickback, but I've NEVER heard of a cruise line assisting a passenger with a faulty purchase. You'll need to deal directly with the store. The only shop in St. Thomas that I'll buy jewellry from is AH Riise, because I get a GIA certificate, and they'll repair anything wrong. I bought an amethyst (sp?) ring with several stones years ago, and one stone kept falling out. They not only repaired it, but they sent me a check for my postage. Then, on my next cruise, I took the ring with me, and asked to exchange it for a ring with one solid stone. No problem, and the new ring had a better quality stone, and was 18k gold instead of 14k. Got the GIA certificate, and it was appraised at twice what I paid for the original ring. Caveat Emptor!
  7. conniecat

    conniecat Guest

    Your'e right, it is Omni's fault, and they should hvae to fix it. However, our shopping guide Sandra told us to inform the cruise line of any problems, and if they weren't taken care of, RCCL would withdraw it's recommendation for the shops. That is why she called them.
  8. there are enuf people here...

    Someone else could 'check' it they actually withdraw recommendation. I'd love to think they would... but would be shocked if someone reported back that they did!

    I too bought from recommended rccl store, Tanzanite Int'l ... didn't have ring appraised; and probably won't.

    as much as donato's message pissed me off, ultimately (s)he could be right.

    wish i had answer here.... good answer is people posting here like you did! ty!

  9. mommabean

    mommabean Guest


    I certainly hope you weren't pissed of at Donato personally, but only at the truth of what he said. When Donato and I were in St. Thomas we didn't set foot in any jewelry shops since neither of us has the expertise to make an educated judgement as to the quality of a stone. But had we bought anything, we would haved used our credit card and disputed the charge had a problem become apparent. And that is what the original questioner says has been done.

    Maybe we should be pissed off at the next reply (just kidding) that commented on the reason RCCL recommends particular shops....it's all paid advertisement. Aren't we all intelligent enough to realize the truth in that statement, also? We sat in on one of RCCL shopping talks and walked out after we realized what was going on here....advertising.

    And to the person who never heard of a cruise line who will back up a purchase and intervene on behalf of the shopper who has been taken advantage of - you've never heard one of RCCL's shop talks. They actually claim that you can return the item to RCCL, they will refund the money and deal with the return for any reason other than buyer's remorse. Well, now we've heard how much faith we can place in that promise.

    Donato's reply was very important for all upcoming cruisers to read. People need to think long and hard about their own limitations in judging jewelry quality before they make the same mistake in St. Thomas where they can't just drive back to the store and demand a refund.

    I hope you understand the spirit in which this is intended,
    Donato's wife

    Post Edited (05-11-04 09:06)
  10. ljeanbrown

    ljeanbrown Guest

    Some cruise lines do say that they Guarantee your purchase for 30 days if you purchase at the shops they recommend.
  11. Trish1c

    Trish1c Guest

    If RCCL made those types of promises AND they were false, take it up w/ the authorities in FLORIDA. RCI has offices there in Miami across from the terminal. Florida has some of the toughest anti-fraud laws in the country. If anybody will be able to get you satisfaction out of RCI, if in fact RCI did anything wrong, the Florida attorney general's office will be able to.

    Good luck.
  12. Donato & Donato's wife -- by all means I meant pissed that what he said was correct -- not pissed at him! Sorry for any misunderstanding there! :worried

  13. diverdiver

    diverdiver Guest

    Problem here - none of RCI's ships are registered in Florida, (or the US) even though their offices are there. That's why lawsuits against cruise lines are so very difficult. They are registered in places like Panama and Liberia, where the registry fees are cheapest. All the cruise lines do it, except for NCL, which has a couple of new ships that are actually American-registered, and American crewed....so that they can do 7-night Hawaii cruises without having to throw in the foreign port of call. (Jones Act).

    And, yes...I've been to ship's talks about port shopping, and received the list of "recommended" stores. Still never heard of a cruise line actually going to bat for a faulty jewellry purchase.
  14. Ali

    Ali Guest

    Well here's one that RCI did back up their "recommended" shop guarantee. A few years back a group of us were sailing on a short cruise to the Bahamas. A cabin mate purchased a diamond and emerald ring at Columbian Emeralds in Nassau. Later the next day as she was putting on hand lotion she took the ring off her finger and I picked it up to see how it would look on my hand when I said, "Geez Mary did you get a discount for one of the emeralds missing out of the prong." She almost broke my finger to look at the ring. Sure enough, one of the emeralds was gone. She went down to the pursers desk and talked to the port lecturer who told her she could either deal with the problem when she returned home or she could give her the ring and the receipt and she would personally take the ring back to the store on the next port stop in Nassau and get a replacement for her and send her the new ring.

    About 2 weeks later, my friend received a brand new ring, receipt and a note from the port lecturer telling her that she had taken care of it. My friend took the ring to her jeweler to have it appaised and it appraised out almost 3 times what she paid for it.

    According to RCI's website, they are "supposed" to go to bat for you within 30 days of purchasing something from their "recommended" shops.

    I hope you can find a solution.
  15. Trish1c

    Trish1c Guest

    Columbian Emeralds is reputable company. Who knows who these Omni international people are.

    As for the jurisdictional questions, talk to a lawyer. There will be a provision on your docs that talks about where you can sue the cruise line for negligence (slip & falls etc) and breech of contract (problem w/ your ticket / refund etc) -- usually Federal District Court in Dade County Florida. Fraud, if in fact that's what this was, is a whole different catagory of legal claim and usually choice of law restrictions do not apply.
  16. Al

    Al Guest

    There are several issues here. Omni is a major player in the Caribbean market, having four locations each in St. Thomas and St. Maarten. I don't believe that they can compete by selling substandard merchandise, except for ridiculously low prices on "leaders" designed to draw customers in. As long as Omni is paying for being a "recommended" store (a nice source of supplementary income for cruise directors and shopping guides) don't expect to see its name removed. On the flip side, it would be economically suicidal for the cruise line to promote a known scam artist.

    As for the appraiser not being certain whether stones are actually diamonds, a laser tester is standard equipment in all jewelry and pawn shops. If the piece is genuine (irrespective of quality) the device lights up and beeps. If not, it remains silent. Having managed numerous pawn shops in a past life, I know whereof I speak. You didn't mention the size of the gems or what your sister-in-law paid. Lower-end tennis bracelets are often used as leaders on the ships' advertising flyers. If it's one of those, the diamonds are classified as "promotional" grade, essentially drill bits. If they were as bad as you state, there would be no "fire" in them, as light refraction would be minimal. Such is clearly visible to the untrained naked eye. Companion stones are also of exceptionally low quality. Rubies are not very durable, and smaller, less stable ones may well show splits. If she purchased one of those "come-on" bracelets, she probably got what she paid for. I'm curious to know how much she spent on it.

    The term "appraisal" in not all-encompassing. There are wholesale, retail, insurance replacement, and who-knows-how-many-other values. Sorry to break the news, but receiving an appraisal for three times what one paid does not mean that it was purchased for 1/3 of its value.

    If the cruise line was contacted within thirty days, the least that should happen is the replacement of the cracked rubies. If the diamonds were represented as GIA-certified for color and clarity (e.g. H color, SI2 clarity) and are not even close, such a matter should also be addressed. In any event, a copy of her appraisal (hopefully from a certified gemologist) should be sent to RCI and Omni. I know of cases in which the stateside jeweler (non-certified, of course) intentionally misrepresented the quality of an item, just to "teach them a lesson" about purchasing such baubles elsewhere. Not that this is the case here, but the remark about not knowing the composition of a stone is suspect to me.

    I've purchased enough jewelry in the VI and St. Maarten to send several jewelers' children to college. Each time, I've received an exceptional value (40%-60% less than mainland retail - sometimes more, depending upon my negotiating skills that day), and have never had a problem with an appraisal. The individual I use here is certified several times over, and has even asked me to recommend a jeweler to her.

    RCI can only be sued in Miami. If you still have your cruise documents, read them over. Such is clearly stated therein.

    As noted above, education is paramount. The website link provided is excellent. A Google search will reveal dozens more. I never cruise without my 10X loupe. In fact, I keep it in my travel kit. Practice with it on your own jewelry (it takes a little doing, but you'll notice things about your stuff that you never did before). Don't be shy about asking for diamonds to be tested. I know a little more than the average bear, and I still request it, even from people I've bought from before. There are ways of determining the gold content as well.

    I sincerely hope that the matter is resolved to your sister-in-law's satisfaction. Unless there are other circumstances, RCI and/or Omni should come through.
  17. Vicar

    Vicar Guest

    Buying Jewelry especially diamonds can be such a crapshoot. You can get a terrific buy in a little hole in the wall place in a port , and you can get royally screwed at a well established in business at the same location for 60 years store in your own home town.

    There are so many factors to be considered when buying a diamond
    Is it a D, E F G or whatever

    Is it slightly included , very included, slightly flawed A stone could be as big as a doorknob, but might not be as good in quality as a smaller stone

    It will make your head spin *LOL*

    Caveat emptor is definately the rule. If you know exactly what you want, do some reasearch on cuts and clarity and prices and then when you are in port you have a little knowledge to guide you.

    I have been to all the shopping talks on the ships and heard all the guaruntees and promises they make , but in the end you are your own best consumer protection advocate .

    if something sounds too good to be true it usually is
  18. 12 Dan :grin
  19. Nanatravel

    Nanatravel Guest

    Omni Jewlers in St. Thomas and St. Martin are well respected and often recommended shops on all the 4 major mass market cruise lines. Your in-law did the right thing in notifying Royal Caribbean of the hometown jewelers findings. Keep in mind it is not RCI's fault. She is just looking for them to honour their guarantee. However, they must first deal with the store in St. Thomas. What did they say or recommend that she do with the piece? If they request that it be returned, advise her to photograph the piece, insure it to be mailed and make copies of all documents. If she is looking for 100% refund, then that is her right with the first step having already been taken by stopping the charge on her credit account.

    I had an emerald fall out of a $2500 bracelet bought in a recommended store. I followed direction of returning the bracelet, awaiting its repair (in NYC) to only find more missing stones and then another stone fell out. I advised the cruise line originally and after months of going back and forth with the jeweler, I finally received an acceptable piece. The bottom line was this store was taken off of the cruise lines receommended store list! I now only shop at a non-recommended store that I have had great experiences with in Havensigt Mall. I no longer make major jewel and gem stone jewelry purchases on the islands.
    Bon Voyage
  20. conniecat

    conniecat Guest

    My sil said it was OK to tell you she spent $1500 on the bracelet.. Not a major fortune, but enough that you would expect better quality. It consists of side by side rubies alternating with side by side diamonds all the way around, set in 14k gold. RCI has instructed her to meet with an appraiser of their choice and go from there. He will appraise the bracelet, notate the damage and report back to her, then she will forward the report to RCI. They will tell her what to do based on his report. She was told by the first appraiser that it looks like the bracelet was probably a return. My sil trusted that the recommended stores would be safe to shop in, and is very upset that her purchase of such a pretty piece of jewelry proved to be such trouble. I bought myself a ring in a store not on the approved list, just because I loved it and it was affordable. Turns out mine is worth at least twice what I paid for it, so I know it does happen. Sorry it didn't happen for her. Thanks for all the sympathyand help.

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