Buying equipment in Australia

I live in Australia and have noticed that the prices in the American
catalogues (adjusted into Australian currency) always seem extremely
affordable for same or similar products compared to the prices being
charged here.

I often feel like my choices in where to buy tools here are
extremely limited. I live in a capital city which has a whole 2
jewellers supplies with showrooms. I have found that I am regarded
with contempt by the sales people at these stores and always made to
wait for the obviously more important customers no matter how long I
have been standing at the counter waiting for service when they walk
through the door.

The range that the two stores offer is opposite ends of the price
scale, but equally as limited. One offers top end products - but no
choice - just the one, with the one high price tag. The other
offers low end products that you can already tell are poorly crafted
and made of inferior materials before you even get them out of the
shop - the prices are more attractive… but it often still seems a
lot to pay for products that you just KNOW will need replacing
sooner rather than later.

On this forum I have seen discussions about equipment like polishing
motors and that an exhaust system is a must… here it seems that
only large companies can afford this set up as the extraction system
itself costs at least as much as a 2nd hand car would. I don’t know
any one person workshops here that contain an extraction system - it
is simply unaffordable.

Anyway, I am going somewhere with all of this ranting… I am
wondering if it would be a viable option to order from reputable
overseas companies. I know shipping and insurance costs would be
high… but, if a group of us were to get together and do a bulk
order on lets say, rolling mills, is there anyone who would know if
this could work out a cheaper option? I am not sure if it is tax
that keeps our prices so high, or shipping in the first place (from
the supplier) or just a huge mark up by the retailer.

Another hobby of mine is music - it is no secret that electric
guitars, basses, amps etc are also available much more cheaply
overseas. Maybe then the higher prices have to do with the distance
involved in shipping way out here to Australia?

I am frustrated by paying high prices and poor service is just
insult added to injury. Maybe I am buying from the wrong
suppliers… I don’t know - hope someone can point out if I’m doing
something wrong.

R.R. Jackson


I’m speaking as an employee of Graves Company now.

We ship lapidary (and other) equipment all over the world. Yes,
shipping does cost money but if you are not in a rush for something,
common shipping rates are not that bad. If you go to our on-line web
site you can request a catalog and order by mail, fax or internet. We
will advise what the shipping rates will be based on your order. Go

I am product manager and technical consultant at Graves Lapidary
Company…just so you know!

Graves Co.

  manufacturers and distributors of lapidary equipment, jewelers
  tools and gem supplies. 

Help others make informed buying decisions with Graves Co. We welcome
your opinions and experiences with their products, ordering, customer
service and and over all satisfaction.

Write an Anonymous Review

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2

Speaking of Aussi prices, here’s a conumdrum for you. While in
Australia last year I met an Israeli family immigrating to
Australia. I was told that all the sugar in Israel is imported from
Australia and the price per lb. is 10x less in Israel than it is in

I know quite a few Australian who do stone business in the US and
buy equipment here to take back with them because of the lower

Unfortunately I have no suggestions as to how to improve these


G’day R.R.,

An exhaust system is a real asset to your hobby or business. Moving
the various fumes and dusts away from your lungs is a big deal.

Saving those dusts can also be a big deal! The Handler 60U dust
collector (usual disclaimers) paid for itself the first year (1996) I
had it. I was casting a small line of nautical jewelry in South
Florida. One trip to the refiner and that sucker was a total asset!

An interim option to ordering from overseas companies would be to
get a shop vac and hook it up to collect the dusts from your grinding
and polishing. It’s definitely a low end dust extractor but it’s a
whole lot better than nothing. There is a mention of vacuum cleaner
dust collectors in a Ganoskin article here:

I bet that it would surprise you how much money comes back from the
refiner at the end of a year!

That’s my two cents, not on tool co-ops, but maybe on a way to save
enough $ to afford those tools from the high quality tool dealer in
your town. Stores are there to make money. Ya gotta buy their

A tool co-op sounds like a great idea! Maybe you’ll become the
premier tool importer to Australia!

Chuck in Asheville where I’m working between winter and spring

R.R.Jackson in regards to buying tools in Australia. I live in
Darwin, we have no tool supplier here so everything I needed I had
to buy interstate. You are right the prices are outrageously high. I
can only assume that the tool suppliers here buy at retail overseas
then add 100% markup or if they are buying at wholesale they are
really ripping off there customers. I make nearly all my tool
purchases from the USA or Germany. The companies I deal with were
more than happy to send me huge catalogues of there products ( no
charge) with everything priced. I can make my purchases online and
pay with Credit Card and the goods arrive in 7 to 10 days. Large
items are pricy to freight but if you bought here you would be
paying a freight component anyway, that would also have a markup on.
We have this problem here in Darwin where companies source there
goods from Interstate and freight them up here. The thing is they
not only add the freight charge to the items cost but also mark it
up. Don’t put up with poor service and unreasondable prices buy from
those who care to keep your business no matter how small. Those
companies are Rio Grande in the USA and Fischer in Germany, they
have websites. There are many many others and I am sure other people
will make other recommendations. The other reason I use the two
companies is that there are price variations so check each catalogue
when you have your list of goodies together.


Terence Dillon
Master Goldsmith
Chivali Artisan Goldsmiths
e @Terence_M_Dillon
p 08 8927 2112

I am sorry to read about the limited choices and high prices in (at
least some parts of) Austalia. Here in the US, we are truly blessed
(and spoiled) by a wide range of choices and prices.

A friend of mine who lives in Argentina is faced with similar
shopping difficulties, compounded by the likelihood, she says, that
packages shipped into the country from the US will be stolen. Her
solution might not be too ideal for Australians, but… she either
waits until she can make a trip to the US herself, or someone she
knows is going, and has them bring her tools and materials she
orders from Rio or other suppliers.

Good luck with the group-order idea!

–Noel, in the upper Midwest, USA

 The other reason I use the two companies is that there are price
variations so check each catalogue when you have your list of
goodies together. 

Maybe everybody realizes, but this doesn’t necessarily help-- if you
really want to compare, you can’t go by the catalog. I haven’t used
Fischer, but with Rio, it is rarer to actually be charged what it
says in the catalog than not. This is true even for things that
don’t vary with the precious metals prices.


Stores are there to make money. Ya gotta buy their respect! 

Just had to comment on this since it seems so backwards. I’d put it
this way: Stores are there to make money: They’ve got to court your
business and they’re unlikely to do that if they don’t show you


Hi Beth,

 Stores are there to make money: They've got to court your business
and they're unlikely to do that if they don't show you respect! 

This makes a lot of sense. Yet if I am given the choice between an
old, trusted and proven customer and someone who I don’t know, I’ll
choose the old customer every time.

I do agree with you that it’s a store’s job to court business, and
part of that is fulfilled by respecting every customer. I choose to
respect those customers who’ve proven that they are happy to use my
services. Some customers are more equal than others!

Maybe I’m just an ol’ stick in the mud, not progressive nor
expansion minded. I like the ‘sure thing’ of working with someone I
know. I believe that the people who can use my services, will. New
customers will come into my business as is appropriate. I don’t think
I need to court everyone’s business.

If this is wrong headed, I’m sure someone will tell me. I’m on this
forum to learn and am grateful for all the info that flows between

Chuck in Asheville where daffodils are blooming and the birds won’t
let us sleep in.