Working with foreign buyers

I ran an ad in the December Issue of Craft Reports for my "Angels"
series. I received yesterday a letter from a firm in Osaka Japan
saying that they would like to include my line and are interested in
carrying it.

What are the problems with customs, trading etc with foreign

Any suggestions? Anything to be careful of? I have never had any
experience with this and would appreciate any suggestions.


Joan Dulla

Joan, don’t know how much of a headache it will be. Anything leaving
CONUS has to have an ‘Import / Export’ classification. You can
classify and ship yourself or got through a trade broker.

I haven’t shipped offshore on a personal basis, but have received
shipments from around the globe and FedEx seems to be very effective.
I trust them and am positive things will be delivered. If time isn’t
an issue, UPS does as good, or better, of a job.

US Customs has a web page and you can down load the classification
chapters…it is a massive file, but jewelry is fairly easy to find
and determine a classification for whatever it is you are shipping.

I’d ask the dealer how they would like the merchandise shipped to
them, ie, FedEx or UPS, or whatever?

Jimmy Willingham

Dear Joan,

Some possible sources of

Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America. Although some of the
MJSA provides is available only to members, I know they do
have a wealth of material about exporting. Call member services at
1-800-444-6572 to learn what’s available, and whether membership is a
good option for you.

AJM Magazine – AJM ran special series on exporting to Japan in early
1995 (January, I think.). You should be able to order copies of the
article by requesting them on AJM’s web site at, or by that same call to MJSA’s member
service department. The magazine has also published a number of other
articles outlining the basics of exporting that you might find

Export Assistance Centers, supported by the U.S. Department of
Commerce. Odds are, if you need to know about exporting, these folks
can tell you --and most of the services are free or very low cost.
There are Export Assistance Centers scattered around the country: the
one at Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island, has worked
extensively with the local jewelry industry, including a series they
co-sponsored with MJSA at one point. You can learn more about their
programs at

You may wish to consider using a customs broker for shipping. MJSA’s
web site should be able to refer you to a couple companies that work
extensively with the jewelry industry – just use the ReferralNet
search engine on their web site at

Good luck!