Why Bangkok Is the Go-To Spot for Colored Stones – by Richa Goyal Sikri (Rapaport Magazine – January 24, 2024)


The Thai life: A steady gem supply and a history of expertise continue to attract cutters and dealers to the Asian hub.

Thailand has long served as a center for colored gemstones. Its ruby and sapphire deposits and its strategic location — neighboring the gem-rich nations of Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia and Vietnam — have enabled the Thai gem industry to develop multigenerational knowledge and skills in mining, treatment, cutting, polishing and trading.

Political turmoil in Myanmar — starting with the Japanese invasion in 1942, and later a nationalization spree by the government — led to an influx of ruby merchants and miners from Myanmar to Thailand, further enriching the latter country’s gem industry. Among the arrivals was the family of fifth-generation gem merchant Santpal Sinchawla, managing director of Sant Enterprises.

“I was three years old when my parents migrated to Thailand in 1963,” he recalls. “Most businesses [in Myanmar] were owned by Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs, who opted to leave the country. My maternal grandparents owned ruby mines in [Myanmar mining area] Mogok and had dealings with many French firms. Ruby deposits had been discovered in Thailand, and since my mother had good connections in the business, Thailand — and specifically Bangkok — was the logical choice for our family’s new base.”

Leader in enhancement

Location and historical circumstances aside, Thailand’s development of heat treatment to transform low-grade sapphires and rubies into high-quality ones was also a contributing factor to its growth as a colored-stone hub. Thai gem merchants extensively traveled abroad to bring back rough gems from countries like Sri Lanka and Australia, and later from deposits across Africa.

For the rest of this article: https://rapaport.com/magazine-article/why-bangkok-is-the-go-to-spot-for-colored-stones/