Importing a diamond ring into Australia
Your guide to customs duty on jewellery in Australia when importing an engagement ring
If you live in Australia and you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, or any other piece of diamond jewellery, the likes of James Allen or Brilliant Earth can be very tempting. They seem to offer much greater value than the majority of retailers within Australia. And often, they do.
But importing jewellry into Australia can be complicated. How much are you going to be charged on taxes and what happens if something goes wrong?
In this blog, you’ll learn
- The two things that will affect how the price of your engagement ring
- The import tax you will pay importing a diamond engagement ring into Australia
- What to do if you need to get a ring resized
Two things that will affect the price you pay to import a diamond ring into Australia
1. Foreign Exchange rates
The relative strength of the Aussie dollar to the US$ can play a huge part in how attractive it is to import a diamond or engagement ring into Australia.
The last couple of years have been pretty eventful and this has resulted in some big swings in the relative strength of the Australian dollar compared to the US Dollar:
In the last 12 months since the time of writing, the US dollar has hit the following extremes against the Aussie dollar:
- High: US$ 1.43
- Low: US$ 1.27
This makes a big difference to how much a diamond or engagement ring would cost.
At the US high of US$1.43, a US$10,000 diamond ring would cost you AU$14,300.
Conversely, at the low of 1.27, that same diamond ring would cost you $12,700 – $1,500 less.
While foreign exchange rates are outside our control, I wanted to include it to explain that, while I recommend US retailers a lot on this site, they aren’t always the best option. The exchange rate at the time that you are looking to buy will make a big difference to their competitiveness.
2. Tax and custom duty when importing jewellery to Australia
The second big consideration when importing diamond jewellery into Australia is the tax that needs to be paid.
For most jewellers in the US, the person buying the ring is the ‘importer of record’. This means that they are liable for paying all duties, taxes, and fees assessed by customs or the carrier.
There are three parts to this:
1. Import duty on a diamond ring when importing to Australia
Australian Import duty on a diamond engagement ring is 5% of the cost of the ring over $1,000.
However, under the Free Trade Agreement with the US, no import duty needs to be paid on a loose diamond ie. one that has not been set into a ring.
2. GST on an engagement ring when importing to Aus
GST of 10% needs to be paid on both a diamond engagement ring and a loose diamond.
3. Additional fees when importing jewellery into Australia
There is also one additional fee which may be paid on a diamond engagement ring – the ‘Formal Entry Fee’:
- Orders AU$ 1,000-AU$ 10,000 may be subject to a Formal Entry Fee of AU$ 83.00
- AU$ 10,000 and higher may be subject to a Formal Entry Fee of AU$ 185.00
These fees are sometimes waived and there doesn’t seem to be a firm reason why this is the case.
So, while it’s prudent to account for the formal entry fee in your budgeting, you may not end up having to pay it.
Calculating the tax to import jewellery into Australia
Working out the exact tax that needs to be paid can be pretty tricky, but James Allen have provided a great online calculator.
You can enter the cost of your ring and find out the total of the import duty, GST tax and other charges that will be payable.
It will also show you the difference between just importing a diamond, and importing a diamond and a setting.
Click the button below and then just select ‘Australia’ from the dropdown to find the tax and duty calculator.
Other things to think about when deciding whether to import jewellery into Aus
The price of your ring is just one thing to think about when deciding whether important a diamond ring to Australia is the right decision
Shipping an engagement ring from USA to Australia
Almost all US retailers offer free international shipping.
Once an order ships, it should arrive in Australia within 3-5 business days and once it arrives the shipping company will contact you and to finalise any taxes that are due before they release the ring.
Most jewellers will include insurance within the cost of the shipping. Some may add a small charge to the ring.
For example, Blue Nile add a fee of 0.20% of the value of your order which protects your order from the time it leaves Blue Nile to when it arrives at your door. Technically this is an agreement between you and the insurance company. As an example, if your ring is going to cost AU$10,200, 0.2% insurance on top is an extra $20.
Returns and service
Most online retailers in the US offer great service. No-quibble returns within 30 days and the ability to have your ring resized for free at no cost.
If you do need to send the ring back to the US for any reason, most retailers will ask you to cover the cost of shipping back to the US.
Tax and ring returns
If you need to return the ring to the retailer for any reason, the Australian government doesn’t make it easy to reclaim the duty. Circumstances such as ‘a change of mind’ don’t allow for a refund of duty under the current legislation.
However, there may be a workaround if you do need to return your ring – you may be entitled to a ‘drawback’ of the duty paid. For information on Drawbacks, you can read the Government’s Export Concessions Duty Drawback Scheme factsheet.
Is it worth importing an engagement ring into Australia?
You may have read all of the above and wondered whether it is worth the hassle of importing an engagement ring into Australia. Fair question.
My recommendation would always be that you investigate importing a diamond ring into Australia because compared to local retailers, it is very likely to end up being significantly less expensive. You could get a higher quality diamond at a lower price.
For example, a typical diamond that I help people find is:
- 1 carat
- Excellent cut, polish and symmetry
- H colour, minimal fluorescence
- VS2 Clarity
- GIA grading report
Diamond prices are constantly changing, but at the time of writing (July 2022), the price for a diamond that meets these criteria is anywhere from around AU$11,500 to around AU$12,000:
If we compare this price to the Australian website of US engagement ring retailer James Allen, the prices are much lower – around AU$9,500:
The additional costs to import one of these diamonds would be (based on a AU$7,500 diamond):
|Formal entry fee||AU$185|
|Total additional costs||AU$935|
|Total cost for diamond||AU$10,635|
Depending on which diamond you are comparing this to on the Australian site, this could be a saving of between $1,000 to $2,000 by buying from a retailer like James Allen.
Engagement ring setting prices
Further savings may also be achieved on engagement ring settings.
A typical 18 karat white gold solitaire setting may cost over AU$1,000 from an Australian jeweller:
A similar 18 karat white gold solitaire setting from a US-based jeweller will almost always be significantly less expensive. On Blue Nile an 18k white gold solitaire setting is less than half the cost:
When combining the savings on the diamond and the setting for a 1 carat, G colour, VS2 clarity diamond with a solitaire setting is therefore likely to save at least AU$1,600 and possibly up to AU$2,500.
Something to watch out for on Australian Jeweller’s websites
The prices on many Australian jewellers look quite competitive compared to US sites at first glance.
But there’s one cheeky reason for this. Unlike most online shops in Aus, they often don’t include GST in the prices on their websites:
When GST is added, this is suddenly not such a good deal any more:
Should you import an engagement ring into Australia?
Whether importing your diamond ring into Australia is right for you is a decision I can’t help with, unfortunately. But I would say that before you decide either way, you should have a look at US retailers and see how they compare to local jewellers. James Allen’s sales tax calculator here is a really useful tool to understand what the total cost will be.
Top recommendation: James Allen
James Allen is one of the largest jewelry retailers on the web, with access to a huge range of diamonds.
What sets them apart is the incredible imagery of every diamond they sell so you can see exactly what you’re getting. This makes them a great choice for any diamond, but an especially good places for non-round ‘fancy’ shaped stones.
Ethical choice recommendation: Brilliant Earth
Brilliant Earth goes above and beyond current recommended standards for responsible sourcing with their Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds, which have been selected for their ethical and environmentally responsible origins.
Whether you’re looking for a lab-grown or a natural diamond, Brilliant Earth is the jeweler to choose if making a conscious, ethical choice factors into your decision when choosing your ring.
Best for diamond quality: Whiteflash
Whiteflash is one of the most well respected jewelers online, having built an international reputation for top quality diamonds and designer engagement rings since their founding in 2000.
They are developer and sole provider of ‘A Cut Above’ round and Princess cut diamonds, which are cut to ‘super ideal’ ie. higher quality even than ‘ideal cut’ diamonds, making them some of the finest and most brilliant diamonds in the world.
Whiteflash are also authorized distributors for some of the finest designer engagement rings in the market including Tacori, Verragio and Simon G.
Colored Diamond Recommendation: Leibish & Co.
Leibish & Co. specialize in just one thing – fancy colored diamonds. Whether it’s a yellow, black, pink or any other color of diamond that you’re looking for, Leibish & Co. is the store to check out.
And with a wide range of ring setting styles on offer, there should definitely be a ring that ticks all of your boxes.
If you’d rather buy from within Australia then I have a great recommendation for that too. Just get in touch and I’ll send it straight through to you. I’ve helped many people find beautiful rings at great prices from within Australia, as well as importing from abroad.