How to Import Loose Gems

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Gems are both beautiful and profitable. Just be sure you know the facts before you start to import them.
Gems are both beautiful and profitable. Just be sure you know the facts before you start to import them. (Image: garnet gemstones image by Julianna Olah from Fotolia.com)

Importing loose gems into the United States can be a very lucrative business. Like most other import products, gems are subject to a number of restrictions and taxes before they can be brought in to the country. Before you start, make sure that you are aware of the quality and source of your loose gems. There are a number of loose gem suppliers around the world and you should only go through a trusted, recommended supplier.

For your first shipment, contact a licensed U.S. Customs broker or freight forwarder. This person can assist in properly filing all of the paperwork, and help with shipping.

Research your product so that you can accurately appraise quality, source, type and value of the gems.

Become familiar with the the import regulations regarding your particular gemstones (this may vary from country to country). Refer to the United States Harmonized Tariff Schedule (USHTS) to determine the duty that is applicable to your gemstones.

Research General Note 3 in the USHTS to determine if gems from your particular source country apply for any special import programs.

Budget well for the import duty, as taxes on gemstones are generally quite high.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are importing irradiated gems, keep abreast of the latest information regarding these products. Currently importers of irradiated gems require a license issued from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).
  • According to nowarzone.org, it is estimated that 10 percent of the diamonds on the international market originate from conflict zones. If you do not want to import diamonds originating in conflict zones, so-called blood diamonds, make sure you determine the exact source of your loose diamonds.
  • According to Human Rights Watch, many of the gems that come from Myanmar (formerly Burma), especially rubies and jade, fund the actions of the Myanmar military junta. If you are worried about your gems inadvertently financing the regime in Myanmar, thoroughly research the source of any rubies and jade. Additionally, it is currently illegal to import gems directly from Myanmar, according to National Jeweler.

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