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==How it should be done==
===Before Travelling===
Always take a look around your local jewelleries before making the trip. This will give you a rough idea of what you should be paying and even if you get ripped off in Antwerp you might find out that you still paid less than what you would've paid at your local jeweller shop. I found it was actually possible to buy an 18K gold diamond ring in Antwerp for what they charged for a simple 14k gold ring (with no diamonds) at my local shop! On the other hand, if the price seems low in comparison with your local shop, this doesn't mean that you can't get an ever better deal by haggling, so don't just jump on the deal, try and get an extra discount.
===Walk Around===
Now, once in the diamond district, always start by making a complete tour of the shops, spotting the designs you prefer. Resist any invitations to go in, and any “special discount” offers (of which you should know by now that they aren't discounts at all). Each shop has dozens of different designs and no two shops have the exact same models so you effectively have a choice of THOUSANDS of different models. There is nothing more frustrating than buying a ring and seeing another one you liked more on the way back to the hotel... It is best to establish a list of preference: after a tour of all shops, go in the one with the ring you preferred the most and try it on. If it's the right size (more on that later) and you haggle enough to get it for your budget then get it, if not walk to the shop with your second preference, then third, etc.
===Pay Cash===
Cash is the means that will give you the most leverage when negotiating. Cash means that the seller won't have to write the sale in his books, which means he'll have to pay less taxes and you'll get a better discount. But be careful not to carry too much cash, it is very easy to get tempted to go over your initial budget. If you really can't get the price within your budget and you just have to have that ring, you can always get more cash out of an ATM (there are many inside the Central Station). Walking away to get more cash will also allow you to cool down a bit and think if it's really worth the extra money of if you shouldn't try your luck elsewhere. You'd be surprised what a difference it makes to take a few steps out of the shop.
===Always Chose The Ring That Fits===
I think this is the step most people ignore. When you go in the shop, try the ring and if they don't have it in your size... WALK AWAY!! Of course they can make the ring in any size you want in about a week and even secure mail and send it to wherever you are in case you're not staying in Belgium for that long. But the chances are very high that they will skim off a few tenths of grams of gold by making the ring thinner and use slightly smaller and/or lower grade diamonds compared to the one you saw in the shop. And the more discount you initially got, the more they will try to compensate by lowering the quality. If you ever notice a difference they will argue that it's just an optical illusion because the ring is not the same size as the model in the shop window and that you have made a downpayment anyway so you have no choice but to buy it. This will lead to very frustrating situations so it's best to avoid them in the first place.
===Stand By Your Man===
If you're a couple and go in, usually the man has the money and the girl wants the ring. The seller knows this very well and will try to play you one against the other. He will make the girl try out the ring and give her many compliments on how that is prefect for her. The result is that the girl will insist on having the ring and will team up with the seller against you (or better said, against your wallet). That is the worst negotiating position you could be in. Be 100% sure that this situation won't happen BEFORE you go in the shop, the right attitude for the girl would be to say that man has the wallet and that ultimately he decides. It might sound a bit macho but believe me, you will save many hundreds of euros this way.
===Be Firm But Not Rude===
Personally I found that adopting the right negotiating position is the hardest thing to do, especially on the first few tries. You want to show right away that you're not some sucker that can be fooled easily. But at the same time if you just throw your newly-acquired knowledge to the seller's face (ie. “These diamonds are colour enhanced, they are worthless!!”), he will take it as an insult and “shut off” from the deal (although what you said is not necessarily false...). I found that saying that it is indeed a very beautiful ring, that you recognize the craftsmanship quality but that you just don't have more money over your budget and that if you get a good deal you will recommend his shop to all your friends are the best arguments to get him to lower the price. But be firm. Most of the times you will eventually get to a point where the seller will swear that if he sold it for less he'd be making a loss, and another seller (the “shop owner”) will come from behind and make a final “take it or leave it” offer. Even then, if you're a good haggler, tell your last offer and pretend to leave, there's a good chance that they will skimp off a bit more.

Revision as of 15:14, 22 December 2011

Travel topics are articles that deal with a specific topic that is too large or detailed to go in a specific travel guide destination page, or travel tips that are so general that they apply to nearly all destinations and don't need to be in each specific travel guide.

This is a listing of the travel topics already on Wikitravel

See also

  • Itineraries - articles that describe a route, rather than a single destination. They may cover anything from an intercontinental trek like Silk Road to a tour of a single city such as Literary London.



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Final Thoughts

Price Of Commodities

In case you don't know this already, the price of gold and diamonds has been skyrocketing lately. This means that whatever you do, the rings you buy today will be more expensive than what they were a few years ago. So if your friend starts laughing and tells you that he paid his ring half the price 5 years ago it doesn't necessarily mean that you have been ripped off.

Ethical Aspects

More and more people, especially since a certain Hollywood movie, are wondering whether the diamonds sold in these shops are not blood diamonds. Of course, if you ask the question straightforwardly, the seller will swear that they are not (even if they are). I have done myself some research on the subject and the sad truth is that these diamonds change so many hands between the moment when they come out of the mine and into the shop that it is simply impossible to know if it's a blood diamond or not. This is also true for big jewelleries with a good reputation. Nothing can stop an intermediary somewhere along the line to pass a blood diamond for an ethical one, there are many ways of getting fake ethical certificates or passing them through a front company who will claim they come from a different mine. Also, like I said before, bear in mind that most small diamonds are assembled today in Asia for ridiculously small wages so somewhere along the line you are still encouraging unethical behaviour. This is a sad truth that you will just have to live with when buying your ring, and again, buying it from a bigger shop with a high reputation and all the proper certificates (and premium price) won't necessarily guarantee that you aren't being part of the "system".

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