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Chanthaburi Gem Market

Buying Gemstones in Chanthaburi 

The Gemstone Trade Capital of Thailand is Chanthaburi
Watching around at gem street and the market in the old town show people from all over Asia bargaining in small rooms behind windows or just in the open space.

They rent a space with a table and a Thai person who is responsible for it to avoid conflicts.The business hours are as usual in Thailand different to anywhere in the world, they are open on Friday and Saturday, other days are closed or maybe open, but actually nobody knows, everyone just does as he or she likes, it's chaotic and unpredictable.

Precious and semi-precious stones trade shops are plenty that means if most shops are closed maybe some other are open, but nobody knows again, that's Thai style.

Beautiful "pigeon's blood" colored rubies from Myanmar are on display but not many, but since Chanthaburi city is also the worldwide center of so-called "Ruby Burning", most of the ruby and other precious stones are heat treated to get rid of inclusions and impurities. Pretty dark blue polished Sapphire, probably from Myanmar and plenty of other precious and semi-precious stones are available. Every year from 8 -12 December the Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Fair is held here.

People of Indian origin negotiate with Chinese trader 

Thai with Japanese plus some European gem dealer wants to make a deal but always shake their head. The gems come from many directions such as Myanmar or Burma and Cambodia plus as far as Madagascar one of the new players in the gem market. Thai gem traders have invested quite some money in gem mining in Madagascar and many of the preciouses  stones make their way to the Chanthaburi gem market. Chanthaburi is also the center of the gemstone heat treatment.

Jade jewelry or raw jade from Myanmar are very precious materials for Chinese jewelry, a jade bangle costs from US$ 10,- up to $3000,- depending on the color and the translucent of the jade stone, some shops also offer beautiful golden Myanmar pearls. If one is not a specialist, don't buy anything, you will be cheated for sure. It's better to take an expert with you the expert can be hired at gem street. All kind of semi-precious stones mainly used in jewelry production are traded here. 

Here is also the capital of the so-called "ruby burner" since what makes a below average ruby a top performer?... Burn the ruby to get rid of inclusions and have a perfectly clear ruby gemstone. Actually, this is not a Thai invention, even since about 15xx A.D. they burn the ruby to enhance the color and clarity.
Tricky Trade in Thailand
Most stones on sale are genuine but should they "sniff" a newcomer she / he  must first wade through the many synthetic stones that suddenly appear from the broker's pockets.

Passing this 'initiation test' allows them to proceed to examine the real thing. Failure (the purchase of these 'gems') suddenly produces large numbers of brokers, all eager to fleece the farang (foreigner). It is definitely not a good place for the inexperienced buyer.

The Chanthaburi market is almost exclusively to sell cut stones; when rough is offered it is inevitably a cleverly beat-up Verneuil synthetic. Not only are Thai rubies and sapphires sold, but also heat-treated Sri Lankan sapphires and other corundums from around the world. This is because many are brought to Chanthaburi for cutting and heating. Even stones from Bangkok may be sent to Chanthaburi for sale since it is where the buyers are found.

From Chanthaburi, the stones proceed to Bangkok for sale to international gem buyers and then pass into the major consumer markets of Japan and the West. The chain of distribution and resulting prices is amazing.  A, we can see that a 5 carat rough stone sold by the mine for $500 ($100 per carat) could cost the final consumer ten times that amount at retail. This is by no means an extreme case. but represents average markups throughout the chain of distribution. 
Trading and cutting
From the time that the stones are won at the mines to the point of export, they may pass through as many as seven or eight different pairs of hands, steadily increasing in value all the way.

Once a stone is found, the miner need not venture far to find a buyer as many small dealers wait patiently at the mines for just such an event. Each morning a rough stone market is held where miners and dealers exhibit their wares. It is a colorful scene, with buyers and sellers crowding around small tables in a line, examining stones. These markets are mainly for the smaller miners, while the big firms sell direct to cutters in Chanthaburi and Bangkok, or cut the stones themselves 'in house'.

Smaller sizes and cheaper qualities are offered in large lots, with the most expensive pieces being sold singly.  

Most Myanmar (Burmese) gemstones are processed in Thailand

The gemstreet in Chanthabury City runs about a kilometers parallel to the river is the hub of a global raw ruby trade even before Bangkok.

The raw stones from Myanmar are brought to  this rather small town south of Pattaya to be enhanced and sold. From the warehouses and via the smuggling routes the Myanmar gemstones finally are traded here. No internet needed this functiones similar to flea markets and private seller who buy them around the Thailand-Myanmar border and carry them to Thailand. Then they are offered to gem  traders in Mae Sot and Bangkok  until the end end up in Chanthaburi.

The buyer are usually from the Indian Subcontinent and Europe. This is a very secretive and lucrative business because of the stone value and sizes. The gem tourists/trader  bring high value minerals and cristals to the town and here they are enhanced and manipulated means add value via heat treatment and other processes to make themmore appealing and fetch higher prices it's just the usual Thai cheating chain 

More than half of the minerals are undergoing this manipulation process to pull the money from the buyers pockets just by simply betreing them because the Thai people know very well what they do but the victims are foreigners so nobody cares.