Grand Cayman’s reputation for exquisite jewellery has established itself as a red-hot destination in the Caribbean, and it shows no signs of cooling down. With the breadth and quality of designers like Cartier, Breitling, Crown of Light, Forevermark and Bulgari, George Town’s boutiques are an irresistible magnet to luxury shoppers.
Moreover, whilst online shopping has severely contracted the high-end retail brick-and-mortar stores in recent years, the market for fine jewellery has remained robust. This is primarily because the internet can’t replicate the sense of excitement, extravagance and mystery of the luxury experience in person.
The incredible value Grand Cayman’s boutiques offer is another factor as a market leader in the Caribbean. With Cayman’s duty-free status for luxury goods and designer discounts, visitors generally save 10 to 20 percent off the jewellery prices in the United States and Canada, with even steeper savings compared to Europe.
EXPANDING ON GROWTH
Even with a well-established market, top jewellers on Grand Cayman are expanding and growing. With 45 years of growth, Kirk Freeport is reaching deeper into the luxury market with new retail locations at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa. And with the launch of both a Breitling and TAG Heuer boutique, Kirk Freeport is capitalising on a trend for stand-alone boutiques for premium luxury brands.
Having opened its first store on Grand Cayman 10 years ago, Diamonds International has expanded to three beautiful locations on the waterfront. Known for its loose diamonds, luxury jewellery and fine watch brands, customers are amazed at the sheer size of high-end inventory under one roof.
“We often have people trading in their older, less sparkly diamonds for newer more brilliant diamonds — like the 90-faceted Crown of Light diamond — and buying loose stones to set at home at a later date,” says Director of Sales and Business Development at Diamonds International, Marc Del Gatto.
With its loyal following, Rocky’s Diamond Gallery has carved out a niche for customised designs and redesigns of existing pieces, including its lifetime upgrade policy.
Grand Cayman’s reputation as a safe island is another advantage for the luxury shopper. After making that big investment in a new diamond pendant or Swiss watch, visitors can enjoy wearing their new pieces out to parties and dinners immediately without concerns for their security.
SPARKLE UP THE HOLIDAYS
For Christmas in the Islands, white diamonds continue to have a strong presence with fresh looks and modern twists. Bold colourful precious stones are also a big feature this year.
“Designers are gravitating towards bolder jewel tones, especially blues and greens, which are perfect for the holidays,” says Renee Langevin, jewellery buyer at Kirk Freeport. “And then for that extra sparkle and glitz, designers are adding diamonds.”
Luxury shoppers will not be disappointed with Kirk Freeport’s huge selection of branded and nonbranded diamonds in earrings, necklaces and rings. For effortless glamour, Roberto Coin’s diamond hoop earrings and Hearts on Fire’s diamond pendants offer a fresh look in classic designs.
For a bold pop of colour in blues and greens, David Yurman, Marco Bicego and Ippolita are showcasing jewel tones in their collections. Doves by Doron Paloma, Pomellato and Lagos are some other top designers featuring rich colour at Kirk Freeport.
Creating a big splash this season is the Crown of Light Diamond Couture collection, available only at Diamonds International. The Couture bracelet features perfectly matched, patented diamonds accompanied by a baguette-cut diamond. Forevermark is another stunning collection that features exquisite diamonds in timeless designs.
This season is all about big, bold, interesting shapes and curves, according to Del Gatto.
Ladies will love the intensity of colour and delicate designs of the Safi Kilima tanzanite collection at Diamonds International. Bulgari and Fendi are two other hot brands that infuse bold colours and modern shapes for exceptional holiday looks.
“Customising is very popular in our stores, and our customers love that they can get creative and build their own jewellery piece, especially if they are celebrating a special occasion,” says Del Gatto.
With a focus on the exceptional quality, Rocky’s Diamond Gallery creates and refines its jewellery designs to cater to individual tastes and personalities. This season, Rocky’s features a stunning collection of white and blue diamonds and an array of rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
“One of our hottest sellers this year is the classic ladies diamond band,” says Rakesh “Rocky” Baxani, managing owner of Rocky’s Diamond Gallery. “We also have a new collection of stunning diamond hoop earrings. It has a unique locking system that makes it very secure but still easy to wear. And diamond stud earrings are always in style.”
Frequently, relationships are reinvigorated during the holidays in the Islands, and that translates in their jewellery selections.
“Around this time of year, we see a lot of couples wanting to renew their vows; and part of the romance of that is redesigning their engagement ring,” says Baxani.
For both women and men, yellow gold continues to be a huge trend, as well as mixing and matching metals with yellow, white and rose gold. Brands primarily known for their silver collections such as David Yurman and John Hardy are transitioning more into gold.
“At one time, ladies would only wear yellow, white or rose gold. But now they are wearing all three colours simultaneously, and that plays into the trend of ladies seeing jewellery as an extension of their wardrobe like handbags and purses,” says Langevin.
Designers are also going big on layering this year — multiple rings on one hand and stacking rings, bangles and cuffs and adjustable necklaces, which can be worn at 16 or 18 inches. For an on-trend, layered look, collections are stacking a sautoir, pendant and a choker.
Gaining momentum this season are collections inspired by the Cayman Islands. Marco Bicego’s collection at Kirk Freeport includes pieces infused with Caymanite’s earthy tones. The Cayman stingray bangle by Alex and Ani can be worn alone or stacked with its Caribbean-inspired turtles and starfish pieces.
Kirk Freeport has also launched a new oval edition of its signature island map necklace in yellow gold with white diamonds and white gold with blue topaz.
Evocative of the Caribbean sun and sea, the Sunburst collection by Crown of Light at Diamonds International featuring a centre blue diamond surrounded with glittering brilliant white diamonds offers a fun and fresh perspective of the tropics.
Another island favourite is Rocky’s Diamond Gallery’s Cayman collection featuring a starfish, seahorse, stingrays, dolphins and sea turtle pendants in bold colours of white and blue diamonds with additional versions in either sapphires or alexandrite.
Renowned marine artist Guy Harvey, TAG Heuer and Kirk Freeport teamed up for its second limited edition of its Cayman watch. The men’s watch features a hammerhead shark on a bright blue face, whilst the women’s watch displays a pair of graceful dolphins on a stainless-steel backdrop with a Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation etching.
“For the first limited edition, a portion of the proceeds will be donated by Kirk Freeport to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation,” says Daniel Kirkconnell, vice president of Kirk Freeport. “This is a very special watch because of its focus on protecting the marine environment, particularly in the Cayman Islands.”
For Breitling lovers, the brand recently introduced a Caribbean limited-edition timepiece with a turquoise ocean dial available at Kirk Freeport. And Breitling is in the designing stage for a Cayman Islands exclusive piece, set to launch later in 2018.
Known for using the art of fusion in its designs and movements and limited-edition models, Hublot has emerged as the new “it” luxury watch and is available at Diamonds International. Fans of the exceptional Zenith brand will also want to look for its latest designs at Diamonds International waterfront stores.
So whether it’s a collection inspired by the Islands, a classic white diamond band or a statement piece in a bold pop of colour, the Cayman Islands continue to be a premier destination for fine jewellery.
Cayman Airways strongly recommends that travellers bring their jewellery as well as other valuables such as cameras and binoculars in their carry-on luggage.
Author: Shurna DeCou