Dubai City Information Site

Jewelry Shopping in Dubai

Hi, Sunil here to give you some tips on jewelry shopping in Dubai

Knowing the ins and outs of jewelry is usually not my thing, but I can’t help my business trained brains sometimes.

This small tips section will tell you the things you must know that most Dubai guides won’t tell you..

I am sure you would want to go jewelry shopping in Dubai during your next trip.

After all, Dubai is world famous for its jewelry selection, mainly gold.

Although Dubai has been named the “city of gold”, about 90% of the gold in Dubai is imported from nearby Asian countries. India is a big contributor to Dubai’s gold. At one time in history, India was referred to as the “golden hen”.

So what should you know before you head out jewelry shopping in Dubai?

General Advice

First off, Dubai is a tax free shopping region. You won’t have to pay sales tax on the jewelry you buy.

Dubai diamond jewelry is up to 60% cheaper than the same kind in Europe or North America (this difference is shrinking due to inflation in Dubai).

Research the 4 C’s (cut, carat, color and clarity) of diamonds before purchasing your preferred stone.

It’s widely publicized that the Dubai gold souk has around 25 tons of gold displayed out in the open between the 600 or so independent shops. That is a ton of gold!

So don’t feel compelled to buy from one store. Chances are you will find another similar piece right down the aisle. So negotiate aggressively. Never agree to the first mentioned prize by the merchant.

Specific Advice for Gold Shoppers

Diamonds are forever but these days gold appears more valuable (as of 2008) Have you checked the prize of gold lately? We all have it ingrained in our heads that diamonds are the best and most valuable stones.

Truth is, gold has skyrocketed and many experts say it is expected to continue increasing. So if you are a value shopper, put your money in gold.

Jewelry Shopping in Dubai - Hours of Operation

Dubai is the new shopping capital of the world. Soon you will be able to shop anytime anywhere. But for now (2008) most jewelry merchants in Dubai open in the morning, close during mid-day then reopen late in the afternoon. Basically it’s usually 10am – 1pm and then 4pm – 10pm.

I wonder why the Americans haven’t caught on to this? I mean what’s the point of staying open when everyone else (essentially the customers) is working in cubicles? This is something I have been absolutely frustrated with. But oh well, that is a discussion for the bar where I can get loud and belligerently express my opinions.

Ok so back to shops in Dubai. They reopen around 4pm and stay open late so people can shop in the evenings and nights when they have free time (again, unlike the West!). Mornings are best to venture out as they are less crowded. Everyone is usually at work at this time so you can have the shopkeepers’ attention all to yourself.

Friday is the religious day in Dubai. Most souks are closed on Friday morning but many other stores remain open. The souks reopen in the afternoon however.

Gold Merchants in Dubai

Most gold merchants are Indians and a majority of them are located in the Gold Souk in Deira. The Gold Souk has over 600 shops and extensive jewelry selections. You are bound to find a piece that you like.

But don’t feel compelled to buy on your first visit. There are a ton of other options so you can take your time jewelry shopping in Dubai until you really find something you like.

High Quality Jewelry Shopping in Dubai

Quality is rarely a problem in Dubai, historically at least. These days with market saturation and all, quality has taken a tad bit of suffering. That said Dubai is still the best place to get your jewelry, mainly gold!

This advice holds no matter where you buy jewelry from. Always check for two main things. Check the design closely to look for any design mishaps. Move your fingers through the edges to make sure nothing sticks out. Be careful and don’t cut yourself doing this.

Check the clamps and clasps before walking out of the store with your piece. Make sure it is stable, works and doesn’t just fall off so easily. A lot of people loose their jewelry this way. It just falls off from their wrists, necks and ears.

Variety of Jewelry

Whether you want gold, diamonds, pearls, rubies or any other stone, you will most likely find everything you need at the gold souk. Of all the different kinds, shoppers seem to prefer buying gold the most.

A stat back in 2007 indicated that more than two thirds of Dubai’s gold buying population buys gold at least once a year. It also stated that over 90% of jewelry shopping in Dubai is gold related.

Now don’t ask me how they measured that. It beats me. Most of the gold in Dubai is 21 carat/karat. The rest is mostly 18 karat. Remember, 24 karat gold doesn’t exist in its purest form; rather it is processed gold. White gold is also increasing in popularity across all Dubai gold markets.

Gold Prices Change Daily Worldwide

It is good to talk to someone who has bought gold in Dubai before. It is also a good idea to research historical prices online before heading out to the gold souks.

Better yet, if you are in Dubai for some time, visit the market often and observe the fluctuation in gold prices. This should give you a good idea on when to lay the harp down and make the purchase.

Prices are Displayed on the Merchant’s Store Front

You can track gold prices by walking to souks every now and then. You will find the latest gold price displayed on a merchant’s store window. If it is not displayed, go in and ask.

You will always get the inflated price so ask for the final and best price possible. You need to haggle with these guys to get the best deals. Never agree to a price the first time.

Gold prices are set by the government (which is derived from the gold trading rate), but this is merely a “guide” for gold merchants. It is up to the gold merchant what they want to sell the gold for.

So your ability to get a good deal depends on how well you can talk them into giving you a good deal. (Hint: Cary cash to tempt them and have the upper hand in negotiating)

Where to Get Money Before Jewelry Shopping in Dubai

Lol, reach in your pocket and hopefully you will find some there. Just kidding ? The operational currency in the Dubai markets is the Arab Emirate Dirham. You can get your dollars, pesos, rupees or whatever else converted to Dirhams easily.

There are money exchange houses everywhere in Dubai. The souks and malls have a ton of them as expected. Don’t get “ripped off” at any one of these. The Dirham has been pegged with the US Dollar for ages now at approximately 3.65 Dirhams per USD. Cash is always king. You can haggle better when you have cold green cash in your hands. Carrying cash is always preferred. Don’t worry Dubai is quite safe. No one will rob you (just don’t be too careless).

Many merchants will also accept your foreign money so don’t presume otherwise without asking them! A lot of times the Dollar goes very far mostly because of its “psychological value” to the merchant.

Read more about Dubai currency in this section.

How Much Should You Pay?

The price of gold is based on its weight. If you are from North America or Europe, you are most likely used to paying for gold jewelry based on the piece you are buying.

However, most places in the world sell gold by weight. Prices vary from one country to another (Note: gold does have a standard global trading rate). In Dubai, the price of gold is set by government and it can change daily.

Gold merchants take the latest price published by the The National Bank of Dubai on a daily basis and display it in their stores so you can see. You won’t find quality gold cheaper anywhere outside of Dubai.

The Best Time To Go Jewelry Shopping in Dubai

The best time for jewelry shopping in Dubai is during the Dubai Shopping Festival which is usually held in the first quarter of the year. Dubai’s gold is much sought after during this time and most of jewelry merchants run big sales to attract buyers.

This is one of the busiest times in Dubai so you better make hotel and flight reservations well in advance. It is truly a sight to see in Dubai and gets crowded enough that many streets around the festival are blocked to keep vehicle traffic away.

If you can't handle too much traffic, wait about 6 months and try going to Dubai sometime between July and August during the Dubai Summer Surprises (“DSS”). The DSS is also a shopping festival but on a much smaller scale. You will still see all the wonderful deals but your shopping experience will be much better if you are not the type to “hang with the crowd”.

The DSS was started to attract tourism to Dubai in a time when most of its residents take vacations out of the country to avoid the brutal summer sun. I guess there is a trade-off to everything. You can’t escape the desert summer and still expect to get the best deals in Dubai without having to fight the crowd.

Read more about the Dubai Shopping Festival here.

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