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International shipping and insurance


Hi all,

I’m in a bit of a quandry over shipping internationally. I need to
ship a ring to Australia from US and the customer wants it insured
for the full value, around $2200. I ship lower value items
internationally quite often using USPS. However for something like
this I’m hesitant touse USPS because the item description and value
must be written on the customs form on the outside of the package.
It’s kind of like writing “steal me” in giant red letters.
“low-balling” the value to make it less of a target for theft is not
an option in this case. I’ve looked into using 3rd partyinsurance
through fedex but after some research it sounds as though they are
basically worhless when it comes to actually paying out on claims.
When I’m in Bangkok I use fedex through G4S and they are fantastic
but they do not have an office where I live in Alaska. I’ve been
through the Orchid archives for the last couple of hours trying to
find an answer to this dilemma but it seems like everyone has a
different way of handling the problem. Fedex does have a special
program for the jewelry industry but I rarely ship packages of high
value so I doubt they would accept my application, it seems to
bemore for larger companies that ship a lot.

Any thoughts?

Thank you all for your help through the years, the Orchid has been
an invaluable resource for me.

Douglas @
Eclipse Designs,
Sitka Alaska


Join MJSA and use their special program for shipping high value
items through Fedex.



This is the second enquiry for international shipping in the past 10
day! so, one needs to ask the right question.

Who ships the most expensive items world wide? It has to be DeBeers.

So what do I do? go on line. find De Beers Uk, get their no, and
call them.

Ask the question, and lo and behold get through to the Uk store

Who confirmed that they use Fedex, with full insurance world wide.

So I then ask what about really high value items, say ?200,000.00
and up.

They reply they use a personal courier service called Brinks.

Who wouldnt normally handle what they call low value like your
$2200.00 ring.

But google Fedex and Brinks for their service. if you dont ask you
wont know.

hope this helps.


This is indeed a difficult situation. First of all, you need to find
a forwarder that accepts jewelry, and precious metals and gemstones
in particular. French postal services do not, and are you sure that
USPS does? Because it they don’t, all your insurance and what not is

We do have, however, a service called “Valeur Declaree” (ommiting
the accents because Orchid eats them), and these travel across
borders (at least here in Europe). There is something special about
it: All shippings are sealed (the old fashioned way or in special
envelopes) and packages travel apart from the ordinary postal stuff,
locked away, many signatures, to be picked up at the post office (no
delivery). Kind of a parallel world. I had to educate my local post
office about it, which shows how used rarely it is. Just mentioning
this because you might don’t want to give up on the first No from

Good luck! Shipping value is difficult, across the world is a
nightmare. Ask me how I know.



Hi all,

I send jewelry, declare the value above the real value and do a good
insurance against theft. I’ve had problems with theft insurance paid
me declared value and I worked in manufacturing a new piece apra
meet the client again. Safe transport companies take great care in
screening. I hope this helps. Carlos Brazil.


I just had a nasty experience shipping from Mexico to Canada. I sent
two fairly heavy handmade 20k chains to a customer via UPS. They were
the only carrier I could find willing to ship jewellery, and they
would only insure for $500. Because my customer lives in an
out-of-the-way place, UPS passed the parcel to the post office, who
in turn used Purolator (I believe they are part of the post office?)
for delivery. When the package arrived my customer discovered that
someone in the chain of custody had removed one of the chains and
substituted cheap key fob chain. (Why did they only steal one chain?)
I’ve made a claim to UPS for the insurance - they are investigating
now so we’ll see what happens. But even if they pay out, $500 is only
a fraction of the retail value.

I hate saying what is the package and what the true value is on the
customs declaration on the outside of the package I did give a low
figure for the value - more or less the replacement cost of the gold
only. But I guess that was still enticing enough to attract a thief.
I’ve resolved to stop being so honest on the customs declaration, and
ship future packages as “documents” via one of the other carriers. Do
you guys think that putting a real customs declaration on the inside
of the package, along with a “To Whom it May Concern” letter saying I
called the shipment documents because I’m tired of being stolen from,
is the way to go? Or what else could I do?

I did look into insurance with Jewellers Mutual, and while they will
insure me for my shipments while I am in Canada, they will not cover
me to ship from Mexico. What do other people do about this problem?

The other side of my problem is how to make it right for my
customer. I gave him a pretty deep discount for the initial order. I
want him to go away happy. I don’t think either one of us was at
fault. So how do we cover the cost of a replacement chain?

Leslie Chapman
Fortymile Gold


I am really appreciating this discussion and hope others will
contribute their experiences and solutions.

I routinely ship my sterling pieces from the US to customers in

Since my pieces are usually in the $75-$200 range a high charge for
shipping can be a deal breaker for the customer who will also have to
pay an import/customs fee.

To date the US Postal Service has been the only affordable solution
with various International options; Priority, Express and Global
ranging from about $20 to $50.

However, the USPS has begun frequently changing their service
options on these products. Insurance limits have been lowered and
many restrictions and exclusions now apply.

My customers and I both want the security of insurance. I always
accurately declare on the customs form and I have never had an
insured package lost or tampered with. But I wonder with the new
restrictions, if I had to make a claim if it would be paid? USPS
gives no answers.

How are others handling this? Has anyone found reliable and
affordable shipping for items that are not so expensive? No customer
wants to pay more for shipping than for their item! And though these
are relatively low cost sales, they are an important part of my

Debbie Engle… being strangled by shipping cost & risk


Interesting question…

One thing reference insurance is to self-insure. The company I work
for regularly ships computer equipment all over North America.
Corporate policy is not to insure anything under 10,000. I questioned
a beancounter about the policy and found out they had done an
analysis and the losses for lower value items was less than 5% of
what we had been paying for insurance and this is over a multiyear
period with no lieing on the paperwork. If it’s is a M90 Lenovo
desktop computer that is what is declared.

If you are shipping pieces that are in the 75$ to 200$ range and you
currently paying say 10$ to insure the piece, look at your track
record. If you have shipped 20 pieces with no loss you have in effect
give away 200$ and continue to do so. Instead put a jar on your desk
toss the 10$ in it and call it your insurance fund. At the end of,
say 6 months, count the money in the jar and see if you are ahead or

LOL also in contradiction to the first paragraph, how you describe
the item is up to you. You can call it Jewelry or you can call it
"Custom Metalwork" . Both are totally true and in most countries as
long as the full value is declared it is not a problem,



Here in Brazil the burglary rate is great, I had several problems
thefts often had to work again in the manufacture of a new gem to
meet customer again, often resulting in financial loss to me. For
this reason I decided to declare the insurance value above the real,
because I had to pay again shipping, plus the cost of raw materials
and my work. In addition, customer relationship is turbulent and
thus an item to be more negative the evaluation for a new purchase
future. Carlos. Brazil.


Two points:

  1. I thought ALL the main couriers (UPS/DHL/Fed EX) do not allow
    jewelry to be shipped. I mar my shipments “Religious ceremonial art”.

  2. I just discovered that even if you pay full UPS insurance, in the
    US the package is left by the door, and they are not responsible if
    it is stolen from there! Signature not required! What kind of
    insurance is that?!?

Janet in Jerusalem


I do not know if you are shipping from another country what would
work but if you are in the US and shipping jewelry either within the
US or internationally one option is to ship FedEx or UPS with
ParcelPro as the insurer. You can either use your own account number
for FedEx/UPS and just use ParcelPro for insurance or you can sign
up to use their account number for both the shipping and insurance.
Since they have so much shipped under their number their shipping
rates are very good.

Using ParcelPro they are very specific that NO jewelry terms in the
address or description is to be used, so you can use “personal
adornment” for the part that shows up on the airbill. You then have
to do a commercial invoice through FedEx (I would assume UPS also)
and in that you write the more specific description. that paperwork
goes behind the airbill. I have found that Australia also wants a
copy of the invoice we are sending with the item to be included with
the airbill so they can compare the commercial invoice to the
client’s invoice. ParcelPro has a list of countries to which they
will cover and the amount covered (which I think is more the
country’s restrictions) and a list of countries they will not cover,
usually because of high risk of theft. The list isn’t always what
you think.

I hope this helps.
Terry Binnion

even if you pay full UPS insurance, in the US the package is left
by the door, and they are not responsible if it is stolen from
there! Signature not required! 

You can specify “signature required” or "adult signature required."
It costs $0.25 extra.

Al Balmer

You can specify "signature required" or "adult signature required."
It costs $0.25 extra. 

It costs about $2.50 or $3.00 more.

Terry Binnion


You can specify "signature required"or"adult signature required."
It costs $0.25 extra.

It costs about $2.50 or $3.00 more. 

There is conflicting on the UPS website. However, the
current rate seems to be $3.75/$4.75.

Point is that signature required service is available, contrary to
the previous posting.

Al Balmer

Point is that signature required service is available, contrary to
the previous posting. 

I was very surprised to find that an insured package covered for loss
and theft didn’t have to be signed for. When the insurance is from
the shipping company, I assumed it would require a signature, and
certainly that it would not be left outside! I felt they should make
it clear when selling their insurance to customers that there will be
no proof of delivery and thus the insurance doesn’t really cover

Janet in Jerusalem


Just received all of my tools and various contents at my front door
yesterday. I kept my valuation to under $100.00. Didn’t want to
raise any Customs ‘flags’…Did all of the paper-work at the UPS
office/depot. If I had to report all of my tools, I’d have a list a
mile long.

Some of my tools were over 50-70 years old. How can you put a dollar
value on those items? I just used a basic insurance of $100.00 and
that was all. Customs just want to see a $ value and a brief
description. nuttin’ else!..keeping it simple.

Gerry Lewy