A guide to Thai Gold

  • Posted onNovember 23rd, 2014

Thai Gold 3Thai’s seem to have a fascination with gold, with many Thai people preferring to invest their savings in gold rather than using banks or savings funds. There are gold shops on almost every commercial street in town and it’s not difficult to also develop a curiosity and interest.

Thai gold 5Thai Gold

Despite the amount of gold shops and national obsession with gold, it’s still believed that the vast majority of gold jewelry bought in Thailand is around 97% in purity, though there are plenty of shops selling gold closer to 90%, and while many gold shops will sell gold branded with their own signature, in most cases the shop have no made the gold themselves and it has usually been factory made, making it difficult for them to guarantee the purity.

Unlike most Thai shops, there isn’t much room to barter in a Thai gold shop, even with the best bargaining tactics and a diehard attitude it can take a tremendous amount of time and effort to get a dollar or two off the price. There also a set fee of around $7 per baht or gold for design work, with a minimum charge of $7 design fee, making it more sense to buy at least 1 baht of gold.

Thai GoldInvesting in Thai gold jewelry

Despite much of Thai gold being only 90% purity, it is still seen as incredible value for money, with the usually price being around 4%above the spot price for gold. That is extremely impressive when you consider the amount of work and craftsmanship that goes into to most of the designs; in much of the west you’ll pay at least 40% over the spot price, while hallmarked gold jewelry can be up to 400% over marked price.

23k Gold Thai jewelry is typically very tough and durable; definitely design with wearability in mind. It should never corrode or blemish, and most Thais will wear proud pieces of their gold jewelry 24/7. In contrast, less pure 18k and 14k Thai gold can corrode and is not a good option for regular use jewelry, and should be kept away from tap water and water with chloride.

Thai GOld 4Foreign Gold Vs Thai Gold

In a typical Western jewelers will use 18 K gold for dress jewelry (which is 75% gold 25 % base metals), and will add on a large premium for the price of labor and craftsmanship. Some will even use 14 K gold, which in Thailand is almost considered unwearable.

Where Thai gold dramatically differs is in the already mention low mark up for labor and design work. While there may not be an obvious difference in quality by sight, you would notice a difference when it comes to resale value. Foreign gold can lose a certain amount of value once it is purchased, and a lot can depend on the quality or the design and condition it has been kept in. In contrast the value of Thai gold jewelry revolves almost solely around the quality and purity of the gold, meaning there is no noticeable drop in value when bought new, making it far more investible with the price more dependent on the market value of gold.

Further proof of this comes when buying a selling. If you bought some gold jewelry in the west and then returned a week later asking to sell it back to eth shop, you’d most likely suffer a large loss. However, if you did the same in Thailand, the shop would be happy to buy back gold at just a small loss on your side.

Thai Gold 2Where to buy gold in Bangkok

The best gold shops in Bangkok can be found on Yaowarat Rd in Chinatown. The shops here are well known for being incredibly professional and totally honest about weight and purity; you are highly unlikely to be cheater here.

Thai is sold by its baht weight which is just under a half a Troy ounce. It is worth noting that this is not the traditional Avoirdupois system of weight used in the west; there are 14 Troy ounces to the pound, rather than 16 Avoirdupois ounces to the pound.

Warning: Here’s the catch. It is illegal to export 23K gold from Thailand, although you can export gold of 18k purity or less.

Testing Gold

Any concerns over the quality of gold you have purchased can be dealt with at the Gems Institute of Thailand. Here you can have your gold laboratory tested using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Inductivity Couple Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) to find out the exact purity and value.


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