The word on the global streets is that Dubai is the place when it comes to buying an engagement or wedding ring. Prices are great – up to fifty percent cheaper than buying a comparable ring from any European or North American jewelry retailer and best of all, you really can trust the quality and integrity of the product you get.
So let’s look at the main options that you’re faced with, then we’ll talk about the actual buying process.
Fixed price, or engage in bargaining?
Should you accept the relative safety of making your purchase from an internationally known fine jewelry retailer, and probably pay a premium price for the location and the name on the box, or do you take the risk of dealing with a “no-name” establishment on the promise of a much lower price for a good product?
How fixed is fixed?
We might as well start at the top. All the jewelry shops in Dubai Mall are grouped together to form a 21st century, indoor, air-conditioned, and well-lit “street market”.
The sections of the mall you should head towards are “Watches and Jewelry” and “The Souk”. At opposite sides of the atrium from which the watch shops branch left and right are two key international players in the wedding and engagement ring business: Cartier and Tiffany & Co.
Can you engage in market place bargaining in establishments like these? Officially, no: prices are displayed and fixed.
The word on the web is that Cartier goes to considerable lengths to ensure that prices are pretty much the same for their range of wedding and engagement rings and other items wherever you buy them. However, it seems you can look forward to paying as much as €200 less for a gold and diamond ring in Dubai than elsewhere for the same item.
Is there such as thing as “stealth bargaining” or “unofficial bargaining”? I’m not aware of it. This writer has no experience in dealing with Cartier, but has very positive things to say about her experiences with Tiffany & Co. in Dubai, where there were, at least five branches of Tiffany & Co.
The staff in Tiffany has always been very obliging and pleasant to deal with – but the price is what it is. I still stand by my assertion that it will be cheaper than the same item in other Tiffany & Co locations in the UK, Europe, or the US, though.
(A certain classic piece from the Tiffany range – the Atlas range cuff, not a ring, unfortunately – is, at time of writing, €2400 cheaper at Tiffany shops in Dubai than it is in Italy.)
Independent Bespoke Jewellers
If you’re looking an engagement ring with comparable quality to big name brands like Tiffany or Cartier but don’t want to spend over the odds, then a private bespoke jeweller might be a good option for you.
Private and bespoke sound expensive but these guys generally match everyone else on price and tend to quote low prices first time so you always get a really good deal.
They specialise in custom bespoke engagement rings and fine jewellery items that can all be purchased from the comfort of your living room or through a direct consultation in their office or design studio. Most operate on a ‘by appointment” only system as they are small operations so meet customers one at a time.
I found them to be really accessible and easy to contact – they all have whatsapp numbers advertised on their websites and Instagram accounts.
Dubai Mall Souq
What I am about to say here can apply equally well to other well-known Dubai malls, such as Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre, Wafi Mall, and so on. All of them have their array of fine jewelry shops. Here’s the list from the Dubai Mall Directory; and you’ve probably never heard of any of them.
That doesn’t mean you need to distrust their services or product. They’ve invested a lot in establishing their shops in these prestigious locations and they want your business now, your repeat business later and they want you to spread the word amongst your friends. You can bargain here and it’s a fairly gentle process.
There are a few guidelines: the gold price on any given day is a key indicator of cost as is the quality and size of any diamonds. The actual cost of the workmanship in the manufacture of the rings is surprisingly small and this is one reason why Dubai jewelers can compete so keenly internationally.
The weight of the gold in a ring can be measured on super accurate scales right in front of you and the daily gold price will almost certainly be displayed clearly behind the counter. An accurate description of the diamond stones will come on a certificate, which can be checked for authenticity anywhere in the world.
Reassure yourself in advance by doing a web search: keywords Dubai/diamond ring/fraud/fake. You’ll be hard put to find any horror stories. Most web-chatter in fact attests to valuations done in the UK that are in the order of three times the amount paid in Dubai.
So are there really any things you need to look out for? Well, yes, two stand out. Firstly, make sure that you bargain; it’s expected and whatever price you are offered (unless it’s Tiffany & Co or Cartier and the like), counter with an offer about half that amount. Don’t lose your temper, because it’s a game.
The seller won’t accept a figure where he’s not making some profit and you need to have a price range in mind, with a high and low figure for what you are buying. If you walk away and the seller does not call you back, you were pushing too low.
Second, while you’re unlikely to be charged an over-the-top price for the weight of gold, or fobbed off with diamonds that are not what is described on the certificate, be sure that you are satisfied with the quality of the workmanship.
It’s a pretty infallible rule of thumb with gold and diamond wedding and engagement rings, the further away from the established commercial centers you go, the more the quality of the work is likely to vary.
The Gold and Diamond Park
This specialist location has all you could ever want in engagement and wedding rings all under one roof. It’s on Sheikh Zayed Road, heading towards Mall of the Emirates; you can get there via Dubai Metro, alighting at FGB Station – the Gold and Diamond Park is right in front of the station, or as always, you can take a Dubai taxi.
You can buy straight across the counter, or you can commission a ring to be made to your own specifications. If the latter, take a sketch of the design you have in mind with you, or some clippings from magazines to help the salesman visualize what you have in mind. And yes, they will do straight copies of big name items – just show them what you mean from catalogs or web pictures.
I have bought jewelry from Tiffany’s and see the value continually rise dramatically, 400 percent with one piece. This is one of the benefits of buying from a name brand store, but you pay the premium for the name. Also, I have had jewelry made and bought items from the gold souks. I have been satisfied in all situations. With these items the fluctuations are related to the price of gold.
Have More Questions?
There are a bunch of articles elsewhere on the internet that can help you make an informed decision, including advice on How to Buy a Diamond, How to Choose a Diamond, and 4 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy A Diamond.
There are also a bunch of handy reports on Tripadvisor and Britishexpats.com from folks relaying their experiences with buying rings in Dubai, offering further advice on how to avoid a painful purchase.