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Diamonds Are Forever

It must surely indicate something about our relationships when we hear that "A dog is a Man's best friend" and "Diamonds are a Girl's best friend"! While we're not going to get into the philosophy of such a conundrum, we will try to guide you so that you don't purchase a dog of a diamond!

As you are probably aware, Thailand has become a major producer of finely cut and crafted jewelry -- both the genuine article and fashion-plate jewelry. In fact, Thailand is now the world's number one center for colored gemstones and is the largest jewelry manufacturer/exporter in Asia. So how do you know the real and beautiful from the simply beautiful?

Firstly, if you're not an expert, always use a reputable gem merchant or jeweler ( Chiangmai has several highly recommended by this magazine ). Also, never buy any piece under pressure; if you're told that another customer already has her eye on an item - forget it! Stick to your spending limit even you're told that that other, more expensive, brooch or necklace is "just you".

If you buy preset jewelry, remember the stones will appear darker than loose stones so, where possible, it is best to buy loose gems (the color and any flaws are easier to see). You may then have your purchase set to you own design - or the jewelers suggestion - but remember too that the piece should be marked with the karat content of the gold or silver percentage.

A diamond or gemstone is measured, by size and weight, in "CARATS" (as distinct from gold purity which is measured in "karats"). Generally, the larger the carat the more valuable is the stone. For example, a stone just over one carat (say 1.09 cts) will be appreciably more valuable than one just under a carat (say .85 cts). A stone, too, should conform to your personal idea of beauty.

A quality ruby should look blood-red and have the luminosity of a car stoplight (it should not contain any orange or purple tones). Likewise, a blue sapphire should be neither too dark nor too light, nor should it have any hints of grayness, orange or green.

There are several colored gemstone producing areas in Thailand but many are also imported -- for grading, cutting, polishing and setting -- from mines in neighboring Myanmar (Burma) and newly developing mines in Cambodia. The result is a wealth of quality and colors from which you can choose. Remember, the stone should be your personal choice of beauty (and, without doubt, will have a higher value in your home country than what you paid here). So, as a suggestion to color ideas, your month of birth may be your choice. However, here in Thailand, each day of the week has a color association -- and gemstone to match! They are as follows:

Monday Yellow Zircon or
Tuesday Pink Coral
Wednesday Green Emerald or
Green Sapphire
Thursday Orange Cat's Eye
Friday Blue Diamond or
Blue Sapphire
Saturday Purple Amethyst
Sunday Red Ruby
Any day Pearls

So you have a wide choice and an expert, reputable gemstone merchant or jeweler, will be pleased to assist your selection. Whether it be as an investment or as a gift for that very special person (perhaps yourself?), Chiangmai's specialist jewelry shops will provide you with a wonderful range of exquisite, crafted jewelry or loose quality gemstones. Happy Shopping!

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