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GemSelect Newsletter - May 2009

In our newsletter this month:
Gems and Jewelry in Thailand Back to Top

The economy here in Thailand depends heavily on exports. In fact more than two thirds of our gross domestic product is based on selling products to the rest of the world.

Thailand is most famous as the world's top exporter of rice. But in 2008, the export value of gems and jewelry exceeded that of rice, with more than USD $9 billion of product shipped to countries around the world.

The supply chain for this important industry begins in our home town of Chanthaburi, a small town with a population of about 50,000, located 250 km to the east of Bangkok. Gemstone material from around the world is brought here to be cut and polished, and nearly almost every street has family-run gem cutting workshops.

Chanthaburi probably offers the lowest prices in the world for loose gemstones. But not all of the town's production is exported directly; many gems are set into jewelry by factories in Bangkok.

The gem district in Bangiok is concentrated in an area of Silom Rd near the Chao Praya River. Since 1996, the district has been dominated by the Jewelry Trade Center, a 59-floor skyscraper that is the 4th tallest building in Bangkok. It houses the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS), a gem and diamond trading center, and the leading shopping center for jewelry, art and antiques in Bangkok.

The story of this landmark building represents the evolution of the gem and jewelry business in Bangkok. The project was started by the Ho family, who immigrated to Thailand from Burma when General Ne Win took power in 1963. Originally from Southern China, the family had become successful in Burma over several generations. But they lost everything when they fled Burma and started over in Thailand. The father, Waing Kong Ho, opened a small jewelry business in Bangkok and then established himself as a successful gem broker with a reputation for honesty. His eldest son later established his own successful jewelry company, Bijoux Holdings, incorporating the latest Japanese production methods.

Mr Ho and his sons trained hundreds of young Thais in the gem and jewelry business. One of the Ho sons, Henry, was trained in gemology at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in California. When he returned to Thailand he started the AIGS lab to provide scientific training and gem certification for the Thai gem industry. AIGS is now one of the leading gem labs in the world, especially in the detection of gem treatments. It has helped Thailand become an important center for gems and jewelry.

Rare and Unusual Gems Back to Top

Each month we feature a rare and unusual gem from our inventory. This month we feature an exceptional pink-red tourmaline from Mozambique:

Fine Tourmaline from Mozambique
Fine Tourmaline from Mozambique

Tourmaline is known for its fabulous colors. It is also a gem that can sometimes be found in large sizes. But very clean pieces weighing over 10 carats are very rarely found in the top colors. This 10.98 carat pink-red gem is a good example. At more than 25 mm long, this will make a simply stunning pendant.

Customer Questions Back to Top

Every month we answer questions of general interest from our customers. Please feel free to send your questions or suggestions to our support team at!

Could please inform me if there is a gemstone available with the name of chrisolite (or similar spelling)? Thank you very much. R., South Africa.
The name chrysolite comes from the Greek for "golden stone," and the term has been used historically to refer to a number of different gemstones, including topaz, beryl and chrysoberyl. According to modern mineralogy, the name chrysolite is now used to refer to members of the olivine species which tend to be yellow rather than green. Green olivine is known, of course, as peridot.
Moldavite, a green form of tektite, is sometimes known as water chrysolite or pseudo-chrysolite.
I see you have some larimar on your website. Is it true that larimar is a rarer gemstone than tanzanite? DS, USA.
Both tanzanite and Larimar are found in single locations in the world - tanzanite in Tanzania, and Larimar in the Dominican Republic. But the known Larimar deposits are very small indeed, found in only one square kilometer of a remote mountainside. Larimar is a trade name for variety of pectolite. Pectolite is found in every hemisphere, but to date, this unusual variety of blue pectolite known as Larimar has only been found in the one location.

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Happy Gem Hunting!
Your friends at GemSelect

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Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

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