Below are basic guidelines for visitors looking to buy gems and jewellery in Thailand.
To ensure quality, look for the Jewel Fest Club (JFC) logo. It is an established organisation founded in 1995 by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association together with the Tourist Police and the Department of Export Promotion.
Shopping at any JFC store is a guarantee that the items are real and of high quality. Trusted outlets also offer a money-back guarantee if buyers are not completely satisfied.
Avoid buying from any stranger posing as a government representative who promises exciting deals at a special one-day sale. The same applies to taxi or tuk-tuk drivers making similar promises.
Research the shops you visit and any items before you buy. Don’t be pressured into a hurried purchase.
Ask for a detailed written record of the purchase on a receipt including: type of stone, colour, weight, size, cut, and quality. If possible, check these details thoroughly before you pay.
Always ask to see the stone in daylight even if they tell you that they have a daylight lamp in the shop.
Request a laboratory report from the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT) or the Asian Institute of Gemological Science (AIGS) for larger pieces above a certain mass or price. The report must be recent, not several years old. Remember no laboratory will certify a stone, it only reports on a stone.
Buy a loose stone for a special occasion then have it set. A set stone’s quality is more difficult to assess and prongs can conveniently hide imperfections.
Forget that cut gemstones (precious metals used in jewellery) have a value set internationally, depending on their quality and mass (carat).
Believe sweet-talking street touts who say nearby gem shops offer deals that will make you rich. It is almost always a scam.
Buy right away. Research about the stones being offered, especially the price. If there is a huge difference, something is wrong.
Purchase products sold for incredibly low prices. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Expect to buy cheap loose stones in Thailand and then sell for huge profit back home.
In closing, by following these simple guidelines visitors can enjoy shopping for quality gemstones and jewellery in Thailand that are both affordable and based on the fair market value of each piece. As mentioned, if anyone offers a cut gemstone (or jewellery) far below the set price, it is probably best to walk away and return to shop some other day.