Thankfully, just before I was about to embark on a search for some of the best gems Bangkok has to offer, I had the sense to find a internet cafe and research the topic. Check out this warning: http://www.into-asia.com/bangkok/gemscam/
I was in Thailand for 10 days. I went to a cousin's wedding in Khao Lak. It was a fantastic colorful event stretching for a full 5 days. After the wedding I went to Bangkok for 2+ days. I consumed Durians after "Mao Tong" Durians. Durians are the kings of fruits. At least in Southeast Asia. No one can enjoy a Durian and than consider any other fruit equal to it's taste, texture or fragrance. That is indeed my biased view. Well, anyways let me get back to to point in discussion; gem scams of Bangkok.
As someone who does quite a bit of research on colored stones, I am well well aware that Thailand is the place to go to for some of the best colored stones on earth. It is considered the " capital of colored gem stones" by many authorities. Just Google "Bangkok gem stones" and see what you get. But when you do Google it, as I did that day, you would also come across warnings after warnings of scams that have taken place across the length and breadth of Thailand.
I didn't plan on going gem shopping in Bangkok. If I did, I would have done adequate research before leaving for Thailand. On that Monday morning (3/29/2010), I figured I would just take a look. I mean I am already in Bangkok so why not! I thought I would just ask a tuk tuk driver or a cabbie on where to go. Surely as locals they would know right? I must have been lucky that day. For some reason I thought I should just Google the places to go to as well. Can't hurt right? So I Googled. The results that came out completely boggled my mind. There were warnings after warnings of scams. I had the sense to sit and read through two of the websites thoroughly. I was amazed. I was determined NOT to let that happen to me. So I dumped the idea of buying gems and went to MBK for some shopping.
MBK is the equivalent of Far East Plaza in Singapore or certain shopping malls in Johar Baru or KL. I am sure every city has shopping malls like that. It's supposed to be cheap but not really. So somewhat disappointed I decided that I will check out the Chinatown in Bangkok. I have been there before and I loved it! So I tried to hail a cab. My husband was with me. Just as I read in the warnings on the internet, the cab drivers and tuk tuk drivers were all determined to get us into their cab for ridculously cheap fares- 20 Batts to Chinatown, when it would have easily cost me 150 Batts. They all had one condition though. We need to make one stop before proceeding to Chinatown for a few minutes. Good lord, this is exactly what I read about on the internet!!!!! I refused to get on to any of these cabs. There were at least 30 cabs and tuk tuks demanding our attention. It was so annoying. I had to put my foot down and downright tell them off. Another driver approached us and asked us if we want to buy gems. I told him no.
There have been so many scams and the Thailand tourism authority is doing it's level best to increase awareness. Had I not seen the warning that very morning, I would have been a victim too given how keen I have been in acquiring quality gems! Even if I didn't buy the stones to sell at profit in the US or Singapore, I would have purchased the stones to include in my pieces. Had I done so, I would have sold as genuine gems, colorful and well cut glass to unsuspecting buyers. Worse still is I too would have become an unwitting accomplice. A very important lesson was learned. Do your research. I got lucky but from what I have read it seems thousands weren't.
Bangkok is still the place to go to for Gems, but DO NOT ask the tuk tuk drivers or taxi drivers where to go. Know exactly where you want to go. Go to the well established places. Use only credit card to pay. Tell them that you will get the stones certified in the USA by gemologists and cancel payment if the stones are not genuine. Precaution is your only safetly against these unscrupulous schemers.
Other than this, my trip was fantastic. I met lovely people and participated in one of the best weddings I have ever been to!