Italian Gold a Bargain Anymore?

Feb 8th, 2005, 10:49 AM
  #1  
dcd
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Italian Gold a Bargain Anymore?

We leave for Italy in a month and are wondering whether the price of gold there is higher than what we'd pay in the States for comparable pieces in light of the unfavorable exchange rate. I realize a lot of the gold there is 18K which makes US comparisons trickier. When I was last in Italy 20 years ago, most of the shops quoted you a price per gram which made comparison shopping easier. Do they still do this and, if so, what's the going rate? If not, any thoughts on how to comparison shop? We'll be in Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice. Is any one of these cities better than another for buying gold and which shops/stores did you find with the best price for the best quality? Last question. Other than gold, are there any precious or semi-precious stones there that are a good value notwithstanding the exchange rate? Thank you.

Dave
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Feb 8th, 2005, 11:18 AM
  #2  
 
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Even before the problems with the weak dollar, we didn't find a lot of bargains in Italy at all, certainly not gold. Stay away from tourist areas such as the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and perhaps you can find something reasonable.
mamc is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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Hi dcd

Here is a totally contrary opinion to what most people are writing these days:

I like to buy gold in Italy. First, I have severe allergies, and 18K is the least I can wear without skin problems. So I buy 18K where there is a lot of it: Italy.

Now, there are a couple of shops on the Ponte Vecchio that I like. I tend to like plain and delicate pieces, and I have found things I like at River of Gold, Bellini and U.Gherardi. I think it is the last one that specializes in Lapis and Coral. I bought a beautiful pair of lovely little gold and lapis earrings there. I feel that I paid a reasonable price for each thing I have purchased, over some years, I should add.

Some people don't like COI, not far from the Ponte Vecchio, but I do. Their prices are much less than the shops on the Ponte Vecchio, and their styles are classic and enduring. My daughter wanted huge hoops, and I paid half there for what they were on the P. Vecchio. My neighbor bought a chain at COI for much less than he priced them for on the Ponte Vecchio.

So, there you have it. I like gold in Italy. I never buy jewelery at home, though.

Are prices higher than here? I don't know. And I rarely see 18k here when I do occasionally look.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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I buy my gold jewelry in Italy also because I like 18k and the deep yellow gold tones. When I put these next to my old teen years 14K it makes them look enemic. 24K is nice too of course but it is so soft that those rings have worn through on the bands.

I havent noticed that they were any more expensive and they were weighed and priced per gram.

I have some pieces from Rome, Sorrento and Florence. I love to shop for gold jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio, thanks for the other tips, tuscanlifeedit.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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dcd,

Don't totally avoid the Ponte Vecchio. As Tuscanlifeedit points out, there at least a handful of shops there that offer fairly reasonable prices and excellent workmanship. In fact, this past August, I also shopped at Bellini, where I bought my mother-in-law a gorgeous 18K necklace for her 75th birthday.

You can also check out the shopping sections for each city in some of the guidebooks. Also, Slowtrav.com might be a helpful resource for you, if you post a request similar to the one you posted here.

Good luck!
Weadles is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 03:12 PM
  #6  
LJ
 
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I realize this is a useful tip ONLY for those who are going further afield than major cities only, but here goes...some of the best bargains and incredible artistry in gold are local pieces produced in Scanno, a mountaintop community in the Abruzzo.

Within a half-day's drive of Rome and amidst spectacular beauty and 2 hours from the Adriatic, Scanno is home to much of the craftpersonship that feeds the jewellery stores of Ponte Vecchio et al. Look for light, delicate, intricately woven gold that replicates the local lace or good plain design.

If you go, try Mancini's for gold, check out the hand made lace (much less expensive than Venice) and then treat yourself to lunch or dinnere at Sca'bello.The wool museum is also fun and there are terrific bargains on local saffron and olive oil, too.
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Feb 8th, 2005, 05:10 PM
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Italian gold has never been a bargain! Yes, the price quoted is per gram; however, in small shops, there are a few pieces of jewelry marked as is (item) vs gram weight. While the quality of Italian gold is far better than that in the U.S., the prices are still quite high. I have been able to consistently find better-priced pieces of 14 and 18KT Italian gold in the U.S. I have seen comparable pieces of jewelry there that I have obtained for at least $50-$100 less in the U.S.

A lot of Italian jewelry pieces mix 18KT gold with silver (argento) or white gold. That seems to be a standard style country-wide. For an unique piece while in Venice, you might look for a jewelry made with Murano glass and 18KT gold (like a tear-drop pendant, brooch, etc).
Huitres is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 06:48 PM
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I just wanted to mention that I've bought some glass bead jewelry in Venice, and I've had allergic reactions to it as I do to any jewelry that isn't sterling silver or at least 14K gold. I can't wear it against my skin. I'm guessing that there are metallic substances in the glass that help make the glass gorgeous, and help make me allergic.
elaine is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 08:36 PM
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I price gold and buy pieces that I like all over the world. If we were talking Asia, I know where to go to pick up some great buys-but the fact of the matter is-Italian gold is STILL the standard, the best worked designs do come from Italy. That said however, it ain't cheap, but you can bargain somewhat, and most importantly ASK THEM TO WEIGH THE GOLD - preferably in front of you-and then have them give you the total cost of the piece. When you start talking gram weight with merchants, the shopkeepers will generally start coming down in price, because they think you know what you're talking about.

By dividing the total gram weight by total price, you have a basis to do comparison shopping, i.e., if Seller A is selling 10 grams of 14K gold for $200, the price per gram is $20, but if seller B is selling 16 grams of 14K gold for $288, the price per gram is $18, so seller B is giving a better price, (all other aspects of a gold piece being roughly equal) even though you're paying more, you've got a much more substantial piece of gold at a lower price per gram.

I've not priced gold in Italy for quite some time myself, but I may go to Venezia next month, and I will definitely be pricing gold in the shops there. Like Tuscan, I can wear nothing less than 18K, as I have a severe reaction to the zinc/cooper alloy of 14K and lesser karated gold. 18K gold is 75 per cent pure gold, and should have a stamp of 750, whereas 24K is 99 percent pure gold and is stamped 999. 14K is stamped with 588 I believe.
Spygirl is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 05:43 AM
  #10  
dcd
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Thanks for all your input. It doesn't sound like too many Fodorites have been scouting out or purchasing gold lately. I'll see if I can make some discoveries and report back.

Dave
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Mar 10th, 2005, 11:37 AM
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Spygirl,

Thanks for your lesson in gold. One more question. Is the cost/gram you gave just an example or what one should expect to reasonably pay. I would like to have some idea of what is a good price/gram.
damama is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 08:30 AM
  #12  
dcd
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We leave for Italy on Wed so I'm topping this thread in case some of you recent visitors to Florence had some new thoughts or recommendations on this subject. Thanks!

Dave
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Mar 13th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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If you're really serious about getting your money's worth, you need to be confident that you're getting the karat weight you're paying for.

24kt = 999 = 100%
18kt = 750 = 75%
14kt = 585 = 58%

So an 18kt piece that weighs the same as a 24kt piece of the same complexity should cost 3/4 as much.

Whip out a calculator when you're shopping, and figure out what the merchant is really asking for the gold. It makes transactions a lot smoother.
Robespierre is offline  
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