Monday, February 6, 2012

Jewels from Sri Lanka

When Sri Lanka is mentioned, the first thing that some people think about is the famous Sri Lankan crabs. Me, I think about the famous Sri Lankan Jewels, or the precious and semi-precious stones that the country is known for.

Trivia: Do you know that Kate Middleton's engagement ring is a Sri Lankan blue sapphire from the Pelmadulla sapphire mines in Ratnapura 
The blue sapphire in Kate's engagement right was previously gifted to Queen Elizabeth II by the president of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jayewardene.

A close-up of Kate's Ring

The last time I went to Colombo in November, the driver took me to a Jewelry Store called Stone N' String. They had a really nice display of replicas of the Royal Engagement Ring and I was immediately attracted. I immediately got turned off though when I saw the price.

The Price of the Royal Engagement Ring Replica was a whopping US$19!!!
uhmmmm, thanks but NO thanks!
Photo credit: Stone N' String website
The Royal Engagement Ring Replica from Stone N' String is made of blue and white cubic zirconias, all set beautifully in an adjustable ring. Yes, the type that you can adjust by yourself.  Sorry that sounded sarcastic much, but I honestly think jewels count as jewelry, it they're for keeps, the kind that I can give to Sofia when she's bigger. (It sure helps justify the money I spend on it!) Though at the rate we're going, she keeps on telling me which of my jewelry she likes, diamond earrings included! Just Saying.

But that visit made a lasting impression on me. I knew that I wanted something similar. So for this trip, that's the goal at the back of my mind. I'm even using it as an incentive to motivate myself. I told myself that if I do callanetics or excercise three times a week I can buy loose stones in the first week, and jewelry (yeah!!! that ring!!!) if I do it consistently for three weeks.

I normally look at the jewelry stores and inquire about the price of loose stones, as well as simple pieces that I like. If the prices sound even more astronomical that what H. Stern, "a jeweller recognized for it's International Prestige" as quoted from their website which you can visit here,  was asking for in Brazil, I tell them to stop bullshitting me. And I wear my 13carat Amethyst Ring from H.Stern as I do this so they know I know my stuff.

The jewelry store at the Vivanta by Taj in Bentota had the most amazing stuff, which I mentioned in my previous post that you can read here. Their jewelry was just a higher level of quality and workmanship, with a price tag that was probably three times that at minimum!
Check out the intricate detail on the necklace, and the rock  of a pendant!
This was also something I really liked.
I don't see myself wearing it everyday, but if someone gave it to me (wishful thinking much),
I'm spend for the gown to match!
Here are some other pretty pieces
Some are just really over the top
Who would wear this??? Hahaha.
No judgement. Just Asking.

But this one was my favorite of them all. I even went in and inquired about this one. It's a thousand times nicer in person.
9.5carat White Sapphire
"Best Price" US$8,500!!!
Trivia: according to the sales person White Sapphire is the second most precious stone next to diamond, but he might have just been trying to sales talk me into buying this!  Hahaha, tough luck!
Doesn't it look just like this? Even the setting is very, very similar.
My 13carat Amethyst ring from Rio
I have a thing for rings that look like Ice Cubes. I love them!
Even in shoes, I have a tendency to want to buy similar styles over and over again. It's harder to do with jewelry though, and since I don't think my negotiating powers can take the price of this from US$8,500 to US$500, I decided, I just had to bring my ring to my jeweler to have it cleaned so it can look like an ice cube again.
The ROI on this ring is quite good cause I wear it almost every day.

This is how gems shopping is done in Sri Lanka.

They bring out loose gems, you bargain on the per carat price, they weigh it, you bargain again on the total price, they give you a quote to set it, then you bargain again.
check out the loose stones they brought out for us
uhmmm, not our type
Close-up of the stones
You can also opt to buy just the loose stones, and have your jeweler set it, if you have one, or you can already buy from the jewelry display, but in my experiences, the initial asking prices are really astronomical, so be ready to bargain like crazy. My only rule is to know what you're willing to pay for something, and don't budge! You can use the walkaway trick as often as you like. Most of the time it works.

After investing what felt like 2 hours of our time bargaining,
we finally managed to bring down the price to a third of the asking price so I finally got a baby version of Kate's ring. Blue Sapphire with diamonds set in White Gold
I told myself, this was my birthday present. Now I definitely needed to do my exercise thrice a week as I've already claimed my prize. I may have a tendency to overdo the self-motivating angle. Hahaha.

And just like in Home TV Shopping, if you buy within the next 6 minutes, you get not one, but two more things for an additional payment of US$xxx. 
While waiting for my ring to be resized,
they made me try the matching earrings
As soon as I saw them on my ear, I knew I couldn't walk away without them

The ring may be on the small side, which I justified with the price I got it for and I was just thinking I could wear it everyday to the places I won't wear my amethyst ring to... but the earrings are just the perfect size for my ears! Spoken like a true shopaholic, I know! :) 

We probably spent another 30 minutes getting the owner (who had to be called in to negotiate) to agree to bring down the earrings to a third of the asking price too.

Happy Birthday to Me!!! 

Last thing on jewelry shopping in Sri Lanka, try to go to the jewelry stores by yourself. Ask friends or the concierge in your hotel for recommended stores and directions. The store we bought from started by quoting astronomical prices for his loose gems and I told him I wasn't interested as I knew the prices, so he started selling us the jewelry at half the asking price because he told us that the guides normally get a 25% commission of total sale from all the customers they bring. It was harder to bargain down because he already started low, but if you buy in a group, or more than one piece, it gets easier. As a general rule, it's safer to buy from the bigger jewelry chains, however, they will not be as flexible in giving a big discount that will bring your total bill to a third of the price.

If you opt to buy from a smaller store, ask for certificates and guarantees.
He showed us his government license,
and everything we bought came with a certification for the stones as well as metal used.

I don't know how the certificates will help, if you find out that you didn't get the real thing once you're back in your country. My own rule is, for really big purchases, like my amethyst ring, I'd get it from a credible source. The extra price you pay is for the quality and the brand. But if I like something from the smaller stores, and it doesn't break the bank, as long as they only charge me what I'm willing to pay for it, I'm willing to take the chance. But I'll wear it as often as I can so I can get immediate ROI on it. Just Saying.

3 comments:

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