Is your family sick of mugs, t-shirts, and other assorted gimmicky items as souvenirs from your amazing vacations? Do you think your loved ones might have enough bottles of "real authentic Caribbean sand" or "actual Caribbean water!" to tide them over for a few more decades? Maybe i's time to start considering a new kind of travel takeaway: beautiful island jewelry. On your island trip, it's easy to save big money on expensive items – especially in the duty-free world of the Caribbean. With already-cheap prices and no sales tax, the islands are great places to find jewelry, watches, and gifts for your loved ones, or yourself. Expect to save 25 percent or more on your purchases. Below is a guide to some of the hottest jewel shopping destinations, so go ahead: splurge.
Nassau has always been the place to shop in the Bahamas, with everything from straw baskets to choice Colombian emeralds. Go to Bay Street, where you'll find the biggest selection of shops, like King's Jewellery World and Solomon's Mines. Or, if Nassau isn't your style, head over to the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Grand Bahama Island, a twelve-acre waterfront market with over 66 retail stores offering a wide selection of any kind of jewelry, souvenir, or other trinket or gift you could possibly think of.
As befits its national motto, "Pride and Industry," Barbados plays host to a plethora of fine jewelers and luxury shops. Most shopping is located in Bridgetown, the capital city. Check out The Royal Shop and Little Switzerland on Broad Street, the wholesale Correia's Jewellery Store, Ltd. or one of the many Cave Shepherd and Harrison's stores located throughout the island. For island-inspired jewelry and luxury items at an affordable price, Barbados is definitely the place to go.
The Dominican Republic might not spring to mind as a premier jewelry shopping destination, but besides being known as a source of native amber, the D.R. is home to the world's only source of larimar, a turquoise volcanic rock used in much of the island's jewelry. Check out Puerto Plata for Patrick's Silversmithy and Joyeria Soler, as well as Santo Domingo for many top shops. The educationally inclined can visit the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata to learn more about these precious stones and have a great history to share when their larimar jewelry becomes an instant conversation piece at the next family dinner.
The half-French, half-Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten features some of the best places to shop for jewelry in the Caribbean. The most jewelers are on Front Street in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, which has the diverse offerings of Caribbean Gems, the diamonds of Shoppers Haven, and the many locations of down-home Joe's Jewelry. But don't miss the Marigot section of French St. Martin, with its boutiques offering Cartier to the shops of Colombian Emeralds International and Diamonds International.
St. Thomas is the best of the U.S. Virgin Islands to find your traditional upscale jewelry. Businesses such as Cardow Jewelers and Ballerina Jewelers on the island offer an array of necklaces, rings, pendants, and tennis bracelets. For shoppers looking for something a little more off the beaten path, head to Island Boy Designs in St. Croix, which offers almost a dozen collections of handcrafted gold and silver jewelry from local artist and metalsmith Whealan Massicott. Sonya Ltd. is the home of the original St. Croix Hook Bracelet, a must-have keepsake of any trip to this beautiful Virgin Island.