Friday, 5 February 2010

In which I venture into a jewellery store

As a science writer, I believe I am qualified to write about life, the universe and everything. In this case it's going to be about online jewellery shopping, as online store JewelryArtDesigns (aka LuShae Jewelry) kindly agreed to let me loose in their virtual aisles provided I wrote up the experience.

They sell rings, earrings and pendants, priced around £40 ($60-70) including worldwide shipping. Many of the pieces (note the easy use of the jargon there) feature cubic zirconium stones and a lot are gold or rhodium plated in finish.

I toyed with a suitably bling ring, wondering if I could go for the gangsta rapper science writer look (there aren't many science writers who can pull this off), but decided on the whole I'd be better settling for something for my wife. If I'm honest, a lot of the jewellery was a bit too flashy for me, but I dithered between a simple pair of stud earrings and a rather nice looking pendant, and went for the latter.

The shopping process was painless, and despite this being an Australian company shipping from the US, it was easy enough to flip the currency in the shopping cart and get a price I understood. Then the wait. It took a little longer than I expected, taking 20 days to arrive. Irritatingly, I had to go to the post office and pay tax on it - particularly galling because the tax was £3.83, but the Post Office added an £8 handling charge. I'm assured by the people at JewelryArtDesigns that this doesn't usually happen, but see comments below. It seems very likely to happen unless the Post Office only checks random samples.

The item itself was in a mid-range box - not a cheap and nasty plastic one, not something that exuded 'expensive jewellers'. The pendant seemed well-finished - not flimsy and with a good, solid chain, not the sort that snaps if you breathe on it that you often get with a cheap necklace. I assume the chain is gold plated too (it doesn't say on the website).

All in all, apart from slight issues with delivery and tax, a good experience. The pricing (provided you don't get hit with tax) seems about what you'd expect for an item of this quality, though I wouldn't say it was any cheaper than buying something in a local jewellers.

Here ends my excursion into the retail world. Normal service will be resumed in the next post.


  1. It would have been better to make the import duties the main subject of the article - unless you were being commissioned to write it, of course.

    The shop is definitely telling porkies. You will ALWAYS get stung, unless the total declared on the CN22 form is less than £18, including shipping. Think about it - it is a no-brainer really. The Post office gets paid an £8 handling fee for doing diddly squat. It is not just VAT that you pay either. There are also import duties to pay, which are 25% for most items.

    The bottom line is that if you shop outside the EC, you are going to get stung for a 42.5% surcharge, plus a handling fee. The item will be delayed for several weeks while it clears customs, and you will have to pay a handling fee. The Post office is relatively cheap. Couriers charge much more, often as much as £25. In most cases, it just is not worth it.

    The two exceptions to this are if the cost of the goods including shipping is less than £18, or if the sender is willing to lie about this on the CN22 form. I import a lot of spare parts from China, but I never pay more than £18 per shipment. This is perfectly legit. There are also lots of sellers who are willing to make a false declaration on the CN22 form.

  2. I wasn't being commissioned to write it, Philip, but as I made clear I was given a free purchase in the shop.

    I merely passed on the shop's comments about the customs charge. As you say, I can't see why the Post Office wouldn't hammer everything over the limit (though I hadn't realized it was so low), as it's money for very little. Caveat emptor.

  3. I have slightly modified the main text on this to reflect these comments.