Thailand is a growing tourist destination, and colored gemstones are probably not the first reason to visit the country you think of. But it should be. Thailand, and specifically Bangkok, are rapidly growing into the world colored gemstone hub.
The country has always been a leader in jewelry production and export, but Bangkok now boasts the offices of Pandora, who employs over a thousand people. Besides this, they have two reputable institutions, the Asian Institute of Geological Sciences (AIGS) and the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT). Both of which offer education and laboratory services. Other regions, such as, Chanthaburi, are following suit with amazing markets where precious gemstones are traded between people from all around the world.
These institutes and markets are all part of the plans for Thailand to be a dominant force in the world colored gemstone hub.
BANGKOK : THE CAPITAL
As you might expect, the capital of the country has become known to gemstone experts all over the globe. This is the city where you can buy any gemstone for the best price. This is because materials from everywhere are brought to Thailand to be processed and the industry has grown substantially because of a large supply of gemstones. But the story of Bangkok’s growth is little known.
Thailand used to be an important mining country, with references dating back to the 15th century. The main mines where in Trat, Chanthaburi and Kanchanaburi, where rubies and sapphires were the main stones. The problem was that the rubies mined from Thailand were considered inferior to the Pigeon’s Blood Rubies found in Burma. This changed during the 1960’s for two reasons, and Thailand was able to take advantage of a great opportunity.
The Socialist government of Ne Win was able to control the Burma mines after a coup in 1962. This meant that the market had to search for an alternative source of rubies. With Thailand having the largest reserves of the stone, this was the opening in the market the country needed.
Thailand rubies, while showing outstanding clarity and transparency, their color did not match that of the pigeon rubies. They were darker due to extra iron. However, Thai dealers managed to work out a way of heating the gemstones to improve their color.
These two major market developments led to the Thailand rubies to have major success. So much so, that by the 1980’s, the mines were almost depleted. But the country had shown its skill in treating and cutting gems, and this will secure their future in the industry.
CHANTHABURI : THE MARKETPLACE
The Talad Ploy (ตลาดพลอย) gemstone market in Chanthaburi city is unlike any other market you have seen. During the week it is quiet, with just a limited number of permanent market stalls. It is not until Friday morning that the market comes to life, as sellers, buyer and brokers from all over the world gather the exchange colored gemstones.
The majority of traders have their offices in Bangkok, but due the city’s mining, cutting and treatment history which dates back the 15th century, they have their stalls in Chanthaburi. The market exported $650 million in 2018.
Many stones sold are heat treated to enhance their color. This treatment is normally done in secret, as it is considered unethical. But the market stall owners believe they are adding value to the stones with their methods of treating and cutting them. Many unmarked burners, which are known to the local tradesmen, can be found in the roads behind Talad Ploy market.
How the Market Works
The way the market works is completely different to other gemstone markets worldwide. Buyers are able to book tables under the buildings surrounding the market from the owners. It is at these tables where negotiations take place. Colored gemstones are brought to the tables for the buyers for them to inspect and negotiate prices. Miners will go table to table investigating what prices are being offered to report back to their bosses.
Negotiations are carried out without language barriers, showing prices on calculators or with sign language, but the buyers know the importance of knowing how to speak Thai fluently. Once a deal is set, there is commission of 5-15% that goes towards the owner of the building.
Many buyers don’t take the gemstones back home. They take them to countries such as China, who is seeing a rising demand in colored gemstones, to sell for a profit.
The Plans for the Future
Thailand plans to continue growing as a world colored gemstone hub. The country plans to increase its market appeal by exporting more gemstones and jewelry to countries such as China and the United States. Also targeting an expanding market such as India.
With the help of excellent craftmanship and gemstone fairs that rival those in Hong Kong, the market appeal of Thailand is set to grow immensely.
They have the incentive of the rising popularity of colored gemstones around the world and the import tax in Thailand being eliminated. These tax incentive programs are done to boost the economy of the country in the gemstone and jewelry sector and are backed with other government incentives too.
World Gemstone Hub
Thailand has already established itself in the industry of gemstones and jewelry thanks to expert craftmanship, mining, and the treatment and cutting of such stones. With the plans and the helps from the government that are in place, it is no surprise to see the country to continue to grow. It won’t be long until Thailand is the world’s colored gemstone hub.
With the demand rising in surrounding countries such as China and India, we can expect more and more buyers to source their stones from Thailand to sell in those growing markets. This is a great business opportunity for any company in the industry and will continue to be a profitable investment for years to come. Thailand’s growth is not expected to stop any time soon.
Where to staY IN chanthaburi
One of the best hotels to stay & relax during your trip to chanthaburi. Maneechan Resort is located strategically giving it easy access to the Gemstone market as well as the natural wonders that surrounds Chanthaburi.visit website