Thailand is renowned for its gems and precious stones market, with people travelling the across the world to take advantage of the great prices and incredible range readily available here. Still, there are often many questions about the jewels trade in Thailand, and longstanding rumours of unscrupulous traders cheating tourists out of the hard-earned cash. We wanted to get the inside story about the jewellery trade in Thailand so we contacted an industry professional from AIGS (Asian Institute of Gemological Science) located in Jewelry Trade Center to answer the most common questions and concerns for anyone coming to Bangkok and looking to buy gems.
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Why is Thailand one of the world’s leading countries in gems trading?
Thailand has a very well developed cutting and polishing of gemstones industry, and has been a world leader for a long period of time. Thailand also has a very well developed heating treatment expertise of gemstones which helps to enhance the colour and clarity of some low quality gemstones.
The high level of skill and expertise found in cutters and setters in Thailand, and the generally lower salaries when compared to other countries ensure prices are lower than found elsewhere.
What are the most popular precious stones bought by tourists in Thailand?
Rubies are incredibly popular stones bought in Thailand, along with sapphires and rubellite. Sapphires found in Southeast Asia come in many hues, with some stones found exclusively in Thailand and Myanmar.
Gold and silver is also very popular. In fact, Thailand is in the top 3 in the world for gold and silver exports.
How can you spot a fake gem or precious stone?
There are many ways of identifying fake gemstones with the use of gemmology education and gemmology tools. Unfortunately, without specialised equipment it is very difficult. Ask for an internationally recognised guarantee certificate to be sure what you are buying has been checked.
Is there any way to be sure a gem is genuine?
Unfortunately the new fake or synthetic stones made by humans are of very high quality and identifying them is becoming very difficult by naked eyes or 10 times magnification loupe. Gemmology study and ability to use gemmology tools is the best way to identify synthetic stones. Another safe way is to ask for a certificate of the gemstone from an authentic third party gemmological laboratory.
Any advice for how tourists can avoid scams?
Tourists should always buy their gemstones and jewellery from authentic government approved tourist shops and to always try and avoid taxi drivers or tuk-tuk drivers or some guide touts who misguide them and take them to wrong jewellery shops.
Is it popular to buy jewellery or precious stones as an investment? If so, what type of items are typically popular?
It is always possible to buy jewellery or gemstones as an investment. The care should be taken to buy them from a genuine dealer or a shop. Price of Gold, gemstones and jewellery always appreciate over a period of time.