Thailand is a very well known jewelry hub and with much good reason. Virtually every type of jewelry fashion, whether diamond, gold, silver or gemstone is traded here and fine materials from mines all around the world are brought to Thailand to be refined and processed. In order to take advantage of the rich supply of gems, Thailand had to evolve and develop Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chanthaburi and other great cities into large jewelry trading cities that they have grown into today. For gem dealers around the world, Thailand is known as the place where jewelry, diamonds, gold, silver and gems of every grade can be purchased at the most lowest competitive of prices.
The colored gemstone business is concentrated in the Chanthaburi district of South East Thailand around the main center intersections of what is known as 'Gem Street'. There are countless shops and open air markets in the province selling everything from loose colored gems to finished jewelry as well as all the equipment needed and used by gem dealers, from tweezers to lights to microscopes. There are also more than a dozen gemological laboratories nearby Chanthaburi and several other larger labs based out of neighboring Bangkok as well, including well known names such as GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and AIGS (Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences) and GRS (GemRearch Swisslab). Chanthaburi has a very popular Jewelry Trade Center in the center of town and Bangkok also has the famous Bangkok Jewelry Trade Center; a skyscraper that sits at 59 stories that was constructed recently in 1996.
Since Thailand in general is the source for most of the world's colored gemstones, it is natural to assume that Thailand is the best place for consumers to shop for jewelry and gems. Unfortunately, the answer is that it is not as easy as it seems. Even though the streets in the gems districts are lined with retail shops, these places are not the best way to find the most competitive prices on fine quality gems. A lot of the gems and jewelry sold in retail shops are offered at high prices to unwary buyers. There are still a number of reputable shops that sell great jewelry and fine quality diamonds and gems, but you'll pay much more than you would expect.
To get the best and most competitive prices on fine jewelry, diamonds and gems, such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, spinel and tourmaline, you should look to visit wholesale dealers who in turn supply the world's top jewelry, diamond and gemstone dealers. However, you won't find these wholesale dealers very easily. They are mainly located in the remote areas of districts and provinces; areas that most tourists wouldn't be walking through unknowingly. Wholesalers do business directly through their network of professional contacts around the world. Even though their business is primarily wholesale, many of these wholesalers can or will also sell to private buyers, but typically only by appointment. So if this is what you'd like to achieve, your best strategy would be to contact dealers before you arrive in Thailand and arrange to view jewelry, diamonds and gemstones in their offices in advance.