Generally, shopping in Thailand is easy, fun and very rewarding. But, the following advice is useful especially when making gem and jewelry purchases:
Don’t be afraid to bargain. While large department stores have fixed prices, most street vendors and shops offering gems and jewelry are prepared to offer discounts to the persistent.
Never let a tout or a newfound friend take you shopping. Stores give commissions to these people and that cost is reflected in the price you pay.
Choose a shop carefully. With gems, for example, make sure it is a specialist in that field and not simply a general souvenir store.
Shops in hotel arcades pay high rents and accordingly prices tend to be higher than at street shops. On the other hand, hotel arcades are very convenient if you have little time for shopping. More over, prestigious hotels generally attract quality shops.
Shop around to compare prices, though be sure to make comparisons between the items–this especially important with gems and jewelry.
Assess the sales assistants. Do they seem knowledgeable? Are they willing to discuss an item’s bad as well as good points?
Take your time, never let a shop assistant pressure you into a buy.
Obtain a receipt for goods bought and make sure it is correct before leaving the shop.
If you are shopping for Thai gold chains or bracelets, you should make these purchases at large gold shops, not in jewelry shops. These shops are quite obvious as gold is all they sell and the selling and buying price are well posted on the window or wall. Thai gold is almost 100% pure yet often sells for less than similar pieces made of 14-18K gold in the west. Thai gold is very beautiful but very malleable.
Ultimately, your best guide is what you like. Don’t, for example, buy gems or jewelry for the purpose of resale or investment. They may have such appreciation potential, but there are no guarantees. Shop for pleasure not for profit.