Whether you are a precious jewelry designer who is looking to buy gemstones for your collections, a patron of gemstone jewelry or a collector of colored stones, Thailand is your go to marketplace. The internet is full of stories of gemstone scams but having seen the gemstone industry firsthand in Thailand, I can safely say, that you can get a very good deal if you what you are looking for and where to buy it. Here are a few reasons why it is smarter to buy Gemstones in Thailand.
It’s a Cutting Hub
Thailand has been famous for its gemstones for centuries, especially dark red ruby (July’s Birthstone) and sapphires mined in Chanthaburi and blue sapphires from Kanchanaburi. With the Depletion of local mines most of the raw stones are imported today; Thailand, however, continues to maintain its reputation as one of the biggest hubs for precious colored gemstones in the world. Chanthaburi, situated 250+ kilometers from Bangkok is a major cutting, manufacturing, and treatment center for color stones. Here, millions of gemstones are imported, cut, polished, sold, and exported every day. Thai craftsmen are considered the world’s best cutters and are skilled in cutting Burmese Rubies and sapphires in pure precision.
It’s the Treatment Hub
Purists may not like treated gemstones, but in this day and age, with ever changing fashion trends, treated stones provided the much need cost advantage without compromising on the look and style of the piece. Thai craftsmen are considered the experts in the heat treatment of rubies and sapphires which permanently modify the natural inclusions, increasing the color and clarity of the stone. For e.g., the “geuda” sapphire of Sri Lanka on processing turns from a milky hue to corn flower blue. They are also said to use specialised diffusion treatments that turn corundum into low-cost yellow sapphire, create irradiated topaz, glass-filled rubies, and oiled emeralds. If you are looking for natural, untreated stones, be very specific to the dealers as this region is famous for its stone treatments. While purchasing expensive stones, ask for a certificate. If the stone is not certified, it is a good idea to get it certified.
Its a Trading Zone
One of the major markets for trading color stones like rubies, peridot, spinel, topaz, jade sapphires, tourmaline, garnets including synthetic stones is Bangkok. As it is cheaper to buy wholesale cabochons from Bangkok as most color gemstone traders and wholesalers have offices here.
Places to gemstone shop in Bangkok include Jewelry Trade Center, JTC and area between Silom and Suriwong. Websites/online stores of reputed Gemstone dealers are another great alternative for people who cannot physically travel to Thailand to purchase gemstones.
Weekends at Talad Ploy in Chanthaburi are busy and colorful with dealers, brokers or representative of gem owners selling beautiful colored stones to buyers at the tables of a street market. The store fronts that offer “tables” charge a commission for every sale, usually paid by the seller and hence will be included in the buying price. Bargains could be struck with good negotiation skills. Most reliable gem dealers in both Bangkok and Chanthaburi will be registered in the Thai Gems & Jewelry Trader Association Directory as members which can be verified.
It is Cheaper
As the gemstone sector is one of the top foreign exchange earners in Thailand, that creates innumerable jobs generating billions of Baht, the Government has exempted tariffs on the import of raw materials to boost the sector’s competitiveness. Also, the government of Thailand has made the purchase of Thai gems even more attractive (read cheaper) to foreign buyers by refunding value-added taxes (VAT).
To summarise, if you have done your homework on gemstones, treatments involved, realistic costs of a treated stone Vs a natural stone and work with a reputed buyer you can get great gemstones deals in Thailand.
Disclosure; Images Courtesy: Navneet gems & Minerals
I hope you found it interesting