Legitimate Gem Buying?
LostCoastSteve
India > India Travel Basics > India Travel > Scams and Annoyances in India
#1
| Member

Legitimate Gem Buying?

Not sure where to post this...

Are there trustworthy places where one can buy gems? For example, maybe a government shop? My wife is a goldsmith, and we'd like to buy some semi-precious gems, but obviously, we don't want to come home with glass or dyed stones or other fakes.

We'll be in and around Delhi and Mysore.

Will we be charged some sort of export tax if we do buy gems?

Thanks!

20 Replies

#2
| Loud Noisy Bird
Yes, you can buy from government shops, but be careful, because the word "Government" gets used like decoration --- Official, registered, Government Approved, Tourist Emporium Blah....

Someone will be along to tell you about Delhi and Mysore, I hope, but here in Chennai I'd be inclined to trust Kadhi Grammadyog (spelling probably mangled) which really is an official outlet for village industry. You can tell it is really government by the staff's complete disinterest in whether or not you buy anything! Mind you, pick the right member of staff, and they can be amazingly knowledgeable :)
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
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#3
| Professional cynic
My short advice is not to buy anything unless you know exactly what you're doing and have equipment to run tests. You never can be sure, else. The government emporiums won't sell fakes but they do sometimes sell the genuine article at inflated prices (e.g. sapphires or rubies that are virtualy worthless due to small size, inclusion bodies, opaque....sold at premium prices).

Also in Delhi there's been lots of talk about goldsmiths selling gold that was market 14 ct but only contained between 12 and 13 ct.

I'd advise against it except, as I said, if you REALLY know and can test your stuff.
"It is preferable to have a criminal for a servant rather than a fool because a criminal's actions are predictable and you can protect yourself against them, whereas there is no telling what a fool's next move will be.
#4
| Senior
Cannot help you with buying of gems. But -
If you know what you are buying and seller does not know - you can possible get a bargain. If you and seller both know the what is been sold - you will get it at real value ( +/ -). If you dont know what you are buying and seller does- then you will get ripped of. Works on anything you want to buy.
#5
| Loud Noisy Bird
A couple (or so) decades ago, the price of gold rose like a rocket, and the price of other precious metals followed it.

One could sell scrap to the big bullion places, who would melt, test, and pay on the result and the price that day, as per normal, but a lot of places were offering cash. What they really wanted was risk-free assayed and marked (hallmarked) items. I had been making jewellery as a hobby for a couple of years, and had amassed about 20 ounces of scrap, which was suddenly worth selling, so I turned up with my bag of bits (countless tiny offcuts) at one of these cash-for metal places, and had a fascinating conversation with the guy. He could not test a pound and a half of fragments, but he could, and did, subtly test me, as to whether I was genuinely "in the trade", said the right things, used the right language. I passed --- and got a good price :)
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#6
| 10 year Visa okee dokee

Originally posted by: dcamrass1 View Post

Cannot help you with buying of gems. But -
If you know what you are buying and seller does not know - you can possible get a bargain. If you and seller both know the what is been sold - you will get it at real value ( +/ -). If you dont know what you are buying and seller does- then you will get ripped of. Works on anything you want to buy.


Wow, that's amazing! The one thing I've found is the BUYER is the one who does not know. The odds of you outsmarting an Indian gem seller are pretty slim.:p

India has been at this gem selling for hundreds of years & the current genuine gemstone sellers will likely know exactly what they are selling. And yes, you can get a good bargain IF you also know about gemstones.

If you are meaning going into side alleys with guys who have little packets of gems, or all the hundreds of Kashmiri shops that always have gems on offer, well, who knows what you'll get.

LowCostSteve--Do alot of research. You can buy some wonderful things if you know the right people to go to. But this kind of purchase is always caveat emptor "let the buyer beware"!

I don't have any leads for you. I do, however, buy lovely gold jewelry, a few with gems, when I am in India and Jaipur is an excellent place to shop. Again, have to find trustworthy shops. I was lucky enough to have an Indian acquaintance who lives there most of her life & she took me to several very fancy places--out of my budget! But she did set me on the right path & I know I got great prices.
[paniccow] My selected India photos http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/s...r/7030/cat/500
#7
| Guru
I think Indian jewellers are a ripoff. Most of the stones they sell come from abroad so their prices may not be as competitive. I think you are better of buying from ebay (from reputed sellers). Atleast check out ebay prices before buying in India.
#8
| Member
Thanks for the thoughts and comments, everyone. My wife uses a few well-known suppliers when she buys gems for her business. She does not typically buy off of e-bay. We have been to gem fairs in the US, including the Tuscon gem show. We know that when you buy from an established dealer, they will not lie to you because their reputation is at stake. Of course, we must decide if we like the quality. We look for inclusions, color, cut. But some things require sophisticated testing equipment that is not available outside of a lab. For that, you just trust that your seller is telling the truth. That's what I'm looking for in India: a seller whose reputation is important enough that they won't lie.
#9
| 10 year Visa okee dokee

Originally posted by: LostCoastSteve View Post

Thanks for the thoughts and comments, everyone. My wife uses a few well-known suppliers when she buys gems for her business. She does not typically buy off of e-bay. We have been to gem fairs in the US, including the Tuscon gem show. We know that when you buy from an established dealer, they will not lie to you because their reputation is at stake. Of course, we must decide if we like the quality. We look for inclusions, color, cut. But some things require sophisticated testing equipment that is not available outside of a lab. For that, you just trust that your seller is telling the truth. That's what I'm looking for in India: a seller whose reputation is important enough that they won't lie.


I'd start my search for a reputable Indian gem seller with the suppliers your wife uses in the U.S. They may be able to tell you someone they know who goes to India, even if they don't themselves. I'll bet there are some at the Tuscon gem show! Many people who deal with gems also go to India for them. Many will tell you they don't trust dealing that way, but enough people do it that if you can find the right connection, you'll be on your way.
[paniccow] My selected India photos http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/s...r/7030/cat/500
#10
| Guru
LCS, I understand where you are coming from. However, I think there is not benefit to buying gems from India unless they are mined in India. Most gems are not mined in India anymore. So, I don't see any benefit to purchasing from India. Some reputed sellers have choosing to start selling on the net and are very concerned about their reputation/feedback. Personally I have purchased from link (Thailand) and have been quite happy with their quality.
#11
| Search, be your own guru
I searched for 'Gem Council of India' and found these 1,390,000 results at Google (http://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en...=&aq=null&oq=). If it is diamonds, check with National Mineral Development Council. Pick those institutions which have the 'three lion' insignia of Government of India.
Truly that Dharma is the Truth (Satya); Therefore, when a man speaks the Truth, they say, "He speaks the Dharma"; and if he speaks Dharma, they say, "He speaks the Truth!" For both are one. - Brihadaranyak Upanishad
#12
| 10 year Visa okee dokee

crvlvr

Those gems are stunning! I shop online alot & even buy & sell on ebay but I'm insecure about buying those kinds of things on ebay. But the prices are very inexpensive, so maybe it's not too much of a gamble! I wonder if Thailand has a better reputation for quality & legitimacy than India. I honestly don't know.

I must confess to purchasing a gorgeous 18K gold sapphire & diamond ring in Bangkok a few years ago at an obvious tourist shop. A very huge & posh kind of shop. I still think I got a great price but I haven't had the nerve to actually have the ring evaluated by professionals. This place had stuff for sale from quite inexpensive to tens of thousands of dollars (US). Big staff, all dressed western/tasteful. It even had a nice museum on the premises. I may have been taken by a big con but I'd like to think I wasn't.

Head in the Sand.[Blush]
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#13
| Member
crvlvr: You have a good point about gems not being mined in India. However, it's possible and likely that many gems are still cut and polished in India. So even if the rough is imported from Thailand or Africa or wherever, there still might be good deals in India if they cut and polish there.
Aupmanyav: Great tip on searching for Gem Council of India. Thanks.
camelgirl: If you like the ring, you did not get ripped off! Buying for yourself is one thing. In our case, my wife would be buying wholesale, setting the stones in her own designs, and selling to the public. She has to know that the stones come from a trusted source because she does not want to rip off her customers (even unwittingly).
Thanks for the comments, everyone!
#14
| 10 year Visa okee dokee

Originally posted by: LostCoastSteve View Post

[ camelgirl: If you like the ring, you did not get ripped off! Buying for yourself is one thing. In our case, my wife would be buying wholesale, setting the stones in her own designs, and selling to the public. She has to know that the stones come from a trusted source because she does not want to rip off her customers (even unwittingly).
Thanks for the comments, everyone!


Well, objectively I could have if it isn't a real cornflower blue sapphire:D but I'm pretty certain the stones are all real. I do like it but since the lure of buying it was because we thought it was a good deal, I might not be so happy if it was a fake! (pretty sure it isn't).

We've met loads of people who got ripped off buying jewelry in Asia over the years. The absolutely funniest was in Afghanistan, where one of my bus-mates (on my overland trip) bought a lapis lazuli ring (the stone comes from Afghanistan) & it turned out to be plastic. It didn't even look real.[whoa]

A couple of years ago when we were Kandy, Sri Lanka, the street hawkers were selling blue moonstone earrings for next to nothing. I absolutely knew they weren't real but they were good fakes, they put matches on them to show they weren't plastic. I bought them for a very cheap price because I like them & they look really great. I still don't know what fake material they are made from but I didn't get ripped off since I know they aren't blue (rainbow) moonstones (which they mine there). I did buy a real one which is gorgeous from a wonderful shop in Galle Fort.

OK, now you now I can't stop shopping!:p But I'm useless for information that your wife needs![Blush]
[paniccow] My selected India photos http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/s...r/7030/cat/500
#15
| Guru

Originally posted by: LostCoastSteve View Post

crvlvr: You have a good point about gems not being mined in India. However, it's possible and likely that many gems are still cut and polished in India. So even if the rough is imported from Thailand or Africa or wherever, there still might be good deals in India if they cut and polish there.!
LCS, from what I understand that only the low quality or small size stones are cut in India by hand. and that is due to its lower labor costs. I suspect there might be more siphisticated methods of cutting bigger better stones elsewhere.