If my memory serves me correctly, isn't Taj Mahal right across the street on the main strip from Island Village? This will be my first time at Couples but I have frequented Ochie on my previous 6 trips. They are literally a block or two away from each other. You could do both in the same trip. They are both really different. I think Island Village has more specialty stuff, is more quaint, has places to sit and relax, has a couple of small bars and snack places and of course Margaritaville. The Taj Mahal is shaped like a rectangle. It has small shops with alot of usual touristy things. It has some high end jewelry. The is a store near the entrance on the left that lets you sample rum in the back of the store. Alot of Taj Mahal shops sell the same things. Island village has more unique stuff...I was there in March of 2009 so I don't think it has changed. We are lucky to be going to Jamaica twice in one year. Hope this helps.
I agree on the Taj Mahal, but more so on taking your own trip in, and staying away from the craft villages, we found our best shopping and prices, on the back streets or off the beaten path, away from the major stopping areas, ya still have to do a bit of haggling.
Don't waste your time on the Gem Palace trip except for a free trip and to go across the street and the back streets around it!
Take the shuttle to the Island Village shopping center, skip the shopping and head to Dave's Lobster Shack located to the left of the shopping area down by the water... MUCH more authentic than the shopping center that was built for the cruise ship passengers.