The Caribbean is a wonderful destination, especially in our Winter months! A chance to soak up sun, sand and rum punches while Britain has snow, rain, cold…

There are various islands that are commonly visited, chief among them being Barbados, Jamaica, The Dutch/French Island of St. Martin, Dominica, and the Dutch Antilles – Aruba, Bonaire and Curaco. Even the names are enticing! But it would be remiss of me not to mention jewellery buying whilst I am singing the praises of the Caribbean!

Jewellery ranges from expensive top range diamonds to hand-made items made by locals on market stalls. I brought a pretty hematite and turquoise necklace for $5 from a market in Aruba, turquoise being my birthstone!

Tourists visit Jamaica to enjoy the beauty of the Island, the powdery sand beaches, lush tropical vegetation, blue waters and to shop. Duty Free shopping is a booming business in Jamaica and visitors line up every day to take advantage of the great money savings. Diamonds along with perfumes, crystals, leather goods, coffee and alcohol top the list of most purchased items. Tourists can shop until their heart is content and rack up savings up to 50% over shopping for the same items in the US. Many tourists return year after year to spend their money while enjoying the deep discount savings. For example, on a typical mid-week afternoon, St. Maarten’s capital of Philipsburg becomes a true global get-together of merchandise and travelers in search of some of the best bargains in the Caribbean. This seaside port on the island’s Dutch side boasts a concentration of shops that really seems to draw the widest spectrum of shopper from around the world. Most of Philipsburg’s shopping is located along an almost mile-long section of Front Street (or Voorstraat in its Dutch name) and its parallel rear neighbor, Back Street (or Acherstraat), along with a few adjacent walkways. While some blocks of Front Street’s pavements may narrow to no more than a few feet wide, this never seems to deter the throngs of shoppers looking for the perfect bargain! But are they such a bargain?

The bargains are mainly aimed at the American market and are based on the dollar. Prices are cheaper but you have to consider like for like. British and US gold is different carat, and the gold sold in the shops tends to be around 14K rather than the 18K or 22K of British standard. The styles are different, and the stones used are different, as well. You can see Larimar for sale all over the area, though it comes only from the Dominican Republic. It comes in blue, but also in green and with red spots, brown strikes etc. due to other matters and / or oxidation. But the more intense the blue, and the contrasts in the stone, the higher and rarer is the quality. The blue colour is photosensitive and fades with time if exposed to too much light and heat, so it is best to keep it wrapped in a box when not being worn. A variety of Amber also comes from these islands. When natural light strikes Blue Amber on a white surface, the light particles pass right through, and then are refracted off the white surface. Result: the Blue Amber has a slight blue hue. When the same natural light particles strike the Amber on a black surface, the light particles don’t refract off the black surface, thus refracting off the actual Amber. Hydrocarbons in the Blue Amber turn the sun’s ultraviolet light into blue light particles, resulting in the glow of Blue Amber. This effect is only possible in the Dominican Republic Blue Amber category and in some Mexican amber. Any other Amber (such as Baltic Amber) will not display this phenomenon, because its original resin is not from the Hymenaea protera tree.

Of course, you don’t have to go to the Caribbean to find great jewellery gifts! For a fantastic selection of jewellery, silver necklaces for women or other items of jewellery available you can buy online from dozens of reputable suppliers, and buy with confidence.

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