All That Glitters is Not Gold: How to Avoid Getting Scammed Gem Shopping in Asia

When you’re touring Asian destinations such as Japan, China, or Thailand, it’s easy to get caught up in the culture and excitement of the trip. Every year, tourists get taken by scams when they buy jewelry and other gems because they are either ignorant of current scams that are running or because those who are selling the items are much more experienced with bartering and knowing what the items are really worth. If you’re planning a trip to any of these locations, being aware of tricks and scams, as well as keeping careful track of your money, can help you from being taken while you’re shopping for gems and jewelry.

If you’re shopping for gems in Thailand, beware of anyone who represents themselves as being from the country’s “gem specialist” division. Even if they have official-looking badges or ID, do not take them at their word that they represent the country or any official gem dealers. There are no such groups that exist in Thailand, so if they want to take you to a shop where you will discover “unbeatable” deals, then you should decline. These people are shills who work for gem scammers that are looking to unload inferior or fake gems on unsuspecting tourists. It’s best if you go to a gem shop that’s well known or go with a certified expert.

Another way that tourists often get scammed when they’re gem shopping in Asian countries is that they are lured in and tempted by “sales” that are going on for that day only or that are seemingly amazing “export deals.” Remember the old adage, as cliché as it may be, that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In the case of gem shopping, it’s usually the case; many deals like this are for glass-cut or inferior diamonds and other gems that aren’t worth much. Usually, tourists don’t have the gems appraised until they return to the states and once there, it’s almost impossible to do anything about the bad deal.

If you’re planning on buying gems in Asia during your next overseas trip, keeping these scams in mind will prevent you from falling for them or other similar traps. Remain vigilant and don’t let yourself be taken by “unbeatable” deals. All that glitters is not gold, and knowing the difference between a great deal and a scam can save you both time and a great deal of money in the long run.

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