Numerous large and small foreign companies are buying gemstones in Thailand. Thailand currently owns one of the most experienced and popular gemstone markets in the world with centuries of experience. The precious gemstone and jewelry trade is one of the world’s oldest markets, and it is still thriving, with an anticipated market value of USD 443 billion by 2022. Thailand’s gemstones industry has become a top global supplier from their large collection of cultivated artisans that have a strong manufacturing base. But among the almost 2,000 Thailand gemstones enterprises there are many frauds. Thailand’s gemstone scammers are abundant so it’s important to know the how to’s of buying gemstones in Thailand.
But first, it’s important to learn the market dynamics of the Thailand gemstone industry.
Thailand’s stone market has a reputation for quality gems and jewelry. Thai artisans lead the global marketplace for precious stones and premier countries take full advantage of their craftsmanship. The United States, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and India all rely on the precious stone market in Thailand. In 2014 these four countries imported USD 2.5 billion in gemstones and diamonds alone. In 2016, Thailand exported a total of USD 1.06 billion of precious stones and about USD 1.66 billion worth of diamonds, according to trademap.org. The website diamonds.net, however, states that Thailand exported some $10.66 billion worth of gems and jewelry within the first 9 months of 2017. Rubies accounted for over ⅓ of Thailand’s precious stone exports. The Thai government is further expanding the country’s precious stone and jewelry industry as it makes up about 5% of their total exports.
Thailand’s gemstones and jewelry are an important industry to the country’s economic development. The industry generates close to USD 30 billion annually and creates 800,000 employment opportunities throughout the many gemstone market supply chains. In 2010, the overall trade of Thailand’s gemstones and jewelry industry hit USD 22.09 billion. Globally, Thailand is the world’s top producer of silver jewelry, the 5th largest diamond cutting hub, 12th largest colored stone provider and one of the top 5 jewelry polishing centers.
Thailand is the land of abundant gemstone and precious stone opportunities, but with that great opportunity can also come great disappointment. There are many fakes and scammers who take advantage of novice buyers and foreign investors. When buying gemstones in Thailand it’s important to follow these steps.
A study conducted by the Department of a Doctoral of Business Administration, Dhurakij Pundit University in Bangkok, Thailand discovered that foreign customers searched for 1-3 months before making any purchases. A good starting resource is the Thai Gems and Jewelry Traders Association website where you will find a list of reputable Thai gemstone dealers and traders. In addition to membership in the association, all Thai gem traders will have a business license visible in their office. It’s wise to also use other public and commercial sources to further expand your research.
Direct very detailed questions to gemstone dealers and salespeople and notice the way they respond. Some questions include: Has this gemstone been treated and if not how do you know? Has the stone been heated, chemically diffused, irradiated, dyed, oiled, waxed or glass-filled?
Can you show me a certificate? If not, can you certify it for me? (If their answer is no, walk away as it will only cost them $10 or so to certify) What experience do you have with gemstones? How long have you been in the trade for? Do you have any credentials or is there anyone employed here who does? (If their answer is no, walk away). Do you have a return policy if the gemstone is not exactly as what you stated? (If the answer is no, walk away).
According to that same study by Dhurakij Pundit University, local Thai customers were more concerned with color, clarity, and price over the size and source of the gemstone. Foreign buyers were found to take into consideration the color, and all other criteria were secondary to them. Depending on your needs, you will need to evaluate what each Thai gemstone supplier has to offer and how each one fits with your purchasing goals. Does the Thai gemstone dealer supply all the stones and in the quantity you need?
Whether you’re purchasing from within the country or importing the stones, this is an important step. When you finally make it here: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Thailand isn’t the world’s cheapest source of gemstones for nothing. Many knowledgeable buyers of Thailand gemstones say to begin at 50% below asking and notice the gem dealers reaction. Use that as a way to gauge what deal you can land. The higher quantity stones you buy, the more likely you will get a better deal.
Investing in the Thai gemstone market is another smart move since Thailand’s flow of investments increased by over 200% in 2015 alone. Much of the increase is attributed to Thailand’s competitive production base of world-class gemstone firms. Reduced costs, conducive government regulations, and renowned craftsmanship all gain the favor of local and foreign investors. Thailand’s Board of Investments also sweetens the deal by offering attractive non-tax and tax incentives, consistent and well-defined investment policies, expanding regional connections and an improvement to their overall transportation infrastructure.
Large companies have already moved their operations in order to take advantage of precious stones in Thailand. Companies like Georg Jensen, Rosy Blue and even Pandora all have gone past the step of importing gemstones from Thailand by opening their own manufacturing facilities in the country.
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