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Gems and Jewellery

Bangkok has developed into one of the most important centers for gems during the last ten years. The value of the exported gems is over 1.5 billion US dollars per year!

Rubies and sapphires are dug from the ground in the east of the country near Trat and Chantaburi. There are other  less extensive mines near Kanchanaburi and Sukhothai. Raw diamonds and other untreated precious and semiprecious stones such as jade are imported to Thailand from several countries or just smuggled in from Burma. Then they are processed by experienced artists into many kinds of jewelry at a moderate price.
The procedure of giving a special brilliance or a more intense color to sapphires and rubies is protected similar to a state secret.
A milky white “Geuda” sapphire (from Sri Lanka) is transformed into a shiny blue gem!
Even for experts this is not an easy business. And what amateur can possibly distinguish a real ruby from a synthetically manufactured one? There are artificial gems which are sold as real ones. They are cheap and usually  sold on the many tourist beaches.
If you want to buy real jewelry or gems you should look around in the established shops recommended by the Tourist Office. Here you face the least danger of being cheated (see later in this chapter “safety”: Be aware of the trap!).
When shopping for gems take your time – drinks will be offered. Bargaining is a normal procedure and naturally it works best when you have some information about the prices per carat of a certain quality in advance.

With each purchase you should ask for a certificate of authenticity – Good shops do this without asking. If you do not trust in this certificate – because a large sum of money is spent – you can go to the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS), 987 Silom Road, Bangkok. Here they will make you an expert evaluation for a charge of 750 Baht per piece.
Jewelry and gems can be exported without paying export duties. The gems are usually  manufactured in gold alloy or platinum.

According to Thai law, silver jewelry must have 92,5 %  silver (sterling silver). Besides the purchase of readily made jewelry it is also possible to order  your own design or copied from a photo.
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