Whether for a family heirloom or a statement rock for an upcoming union, Asia is home to some stunning stones. Here are some ideas for jewellery buyers that want to opt for something different than the common diamond.
The Orient’s most prized gem is inevitably the jadeite or jade. It is mined in places like Guatemala and Japan but the top-grade stone that can rack up in prices come from Northern Myanmar. It is not only revered for its beauty but its deep spiritual connection, as a terrestrial bridge between heaven and hell or a predictor of the stages of life.
Colour is the most important factor of jade where a pure green or ‘emerald’ is considered top quality. Note that Jade comes in many colours beside green like lavender, red and yellow. The finest Imperial Jadeite is a rich ‘emerald’ green that is semi-transparent and highly translucent with a nice lustre to it.
Did you know that Thailand is the world’s center for cutting coloured gemstones? And sapphires from the mineral corundum family are a sought-after gemstone that is easy to find in this region. The market in Chanthaburi sees traders bring the most vibrant of stones to sell to jewellers and buyers with a specialty in sapphire thanks to local mines in Chanthaburi and Trat as well as the Pailin province of Cambodia.
Similar to jade, the corundum mineral comes in many colours but the blue sapphire is the most highly-valued one. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton wears an engagement ring of Ceylon sapphire and solitaire diamonds that was previously owned by the late Princess Diana.
- Tabtim Dreams at Jewelry Trade Center (JTC) in Bangkok, Thailand
- Beauty Gems in Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Chow Tai Fook, in various locations in Hong Kong and China
#Tips on buying
- Always ask for a certification of the stone you intend to purchase. If it is not certified, ask the jeweller to get in certified through local labs. In Thailand, ask for the Tokyo Gem Laboratory which cost around USD10.
- Avoid taking recommendations from commission-hungry taxi drivers and instead look up the trade association of the country you are traveling for a list of retailers.
- If possible, get details on the interested stone like carat weight and if it has been treated on a formal invoice.