By Michelle Graff

I have been in the jewelry industry long enough to know that the Caribbean represents a hot spot for fine-jewelry sales. But until a family cruise last week, I had no idea how important jewelry sales are down there.

The night before each stop on my Royal Caribbean cruise, I found on my bed a guide to the island's shopping with a listing of dozens of jewelry stores. The ship also provided seminars for vacationers looking for fine-jewelry deals as well as coupons for preferred jewelers. The streets of each port seemed lined with nothing but souvenir shops and fine-jewelry stores (selling everything from branded luxury items to semiprecious giftables), and I am not sure which ones had more traffic.

At dinner each night, women would walk into the dining rooms showing off their newly acquired, duty-free Cartier watches and Mikimoto pearls. Of course I couldn't help but think that the jewelry stores in their hometowns had missed out on a hefty sale. Is it really possible for a local store to compete with stores that can capitalize on vacation mentality and offer duty-free prices that appeared 20 percent or more below prices in the states?

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.