The GoJD’s resident stone enthusiast, Lucy Ryalls, recently took a shopping trip to the coloured stone capital of the world: Bangkok. Here she shares her experiences and offers tips and hints to any other jewellers eager to go in search of their very own Aladdin’s Cave of sparkling wonders…………

“I moved back to England recently after 6 years living aboard – first in the Philippines (amazing for great deals on South Sea pearls) and then 4 years in New York.  Arriving back in England 8 months ago was my first introduction to the UK jewellery industry and after my first few attempts to buy gemstones I was shocked, not only at the ridiculous prices but also the total lack of selection, even from the so-called ‘good dealers’ in London. So here I am in Bangkok enjoying sun, singha beer, massages and more gemstones than you can imagine, at prices you can’t even dream of. 

If you do get the chance to come to Bangkok, you cannot miss gem shopping in Silom – it’s about a 5 minute taxi ride or 20 minute walk from the Patpong night markets.  There are stores and stores full of everything from beads floor to ceiling, rubies, sapphires, emeralds; to the more obscure and treated stones that the sellers are a little cagey about identifying. This is where you can trip up if you don’t know what you’re buying.  The dealers can sense if you are inexperienced; it’s like fresh steak to a lion and they will, with no mercy, eat you alive.  

A tourist can easily be quoted several times what a stone is worth, in even the decent stores. Many dealers they’re just trying to make a living out of your naivety, whilst some stores are just plain fraudulent and will sell you synthetic as real, treated as untreated or just junk for 10 times what it’s worth.  

The first rule that helps avoid getting taken advantage of is, never go to a store on an organized trip, or let a tuk tuk (motorised rickshaw) driver take you to on the way back to your hotel. These guys are on commission, and no matter what they say, do not have your best interests at heart.  

The second rule is to know your gemstones and the third is to shop around and get to know your prices.








Having said all that, there’s nothing wrong with spending a little that you can afford to lose. You can bring £30 here and it’s exciting buying a few stones!  It’s worth it just for the fun!”

Lucy Ryalls

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