Buying gemstones in Vietnam, or anywhere in the world, can be a daunting task. Identifying authentic stones for the right price, and finding the perfect match for a special gift often requires buyers to have some knowledge about gemstones and jewelry.
To get a better idea of how to navigate Vietnam’s gemstone market, and lower the risks of making an uneducated purchase, we headed to Precita to talk shop with marketing director Thu Nguyen while senior manager Amrita Mallya curated some of her favorite modern items—one of which was a stunning sapphire necklace assembled with Miracle-setting stones and diamonds.
From simple tips, where to shop, and how to pick the perfect piece, Thu Nguyen confidently curates our ultimate shopper’s guide to purchasing gemstones in Vietnam.
If you could recommend one gemstone to buy in Vietnam, which one would it be and why?
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So, my recommendation would be different depending on the person. Knowing which kinds of gemstone styles are suitable depends on the reason the gemstone is being bought, as well as the individual’s personality.
But, if I had to suggest one, it would be a Vietnamese red ruby. Rubies are native to Vietnam and are mined in the Luc Yen District of Yen Bai province. They are one of the highest quality gemstones in Vietnam.
What are some simple ways to spot a fake?
It is very hard for your average person to know if a stone is real or fake. One way of identifying quality is to check for inclusions in the stones. Inclusions can be any type of foreign fragment buried inside a stone which is often visible to the eye. A simple test anybody can conduct is to view the gemstone against any light source and look for inclusions.
Inclusions are a clear sign of authenticity. Even though many people are under the impression that clarity signifies quality, it’s simply not true. If a gemstone appears crystal clear, the chances are you’re dealing with a fake.
Another highly common problem is that once a stone is set, there is no way to know 100% if it’s real or not. If you aren’t from Vietnam and don’t know any shops with a good reputation, it’s best to conduct your own research and find a jeweler with consistently outstanding customer reviews. Take note that this method is still not 100% foolproof.
My last suggestion is to have your gemstone analyzed by an expert. In many cases, these professionals will provide you with a certificate of authenticity, especially when dealing with precious or costly gemstones in Vietnam.
Where can people get certificates of authenticity for gemstones in Vietnam?
If you buy your gemstone in Ho Chi Minh City, testing and certificates of authenticity can be received from the Gemstone Center RGG and the Rong Vang Lab.
If you buy any gemstone bigger than two carats, definitely have it tested. It’s also worth knowing that purchases of any solitaire diamond exceeding 3.6 millimeters must come with a certificate of authenticity.
Besides rubies, are there any other gemstones mined in Vietnam? If so, what are they and where are the deposits?
In 1987, gems were discovered in the Luc Yen area of Vietnam’s Yen Bai province. Besides rubies, sapphire and spinel are the most valuable gemstones mined in Luc Yen. Tourmaline, gem-quality feldspar, pargasite, and humite deposits have also been uncovered in the region.
As a result, Luc Yen has become Vietnam’s largest hub for gemstone-trading. The markets of Yen The, the capital of Luc Yen, offer an additional assortment of natural gems from Vietnam and elsewhere—including peridot, beryl, aquamarine, topaz, and quartz.
In total there are at least seventeen kinds of gemstones mined in Vietnam. The most popular kinds are rubies, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, garnets, amber, aquamarine, jade, opal, and quartz.
What are four tips you would give to people shopping for jewelry in Vietnam?
Bring a trusted and knowledgeable friend with you. If you don’t have one, reach out to key players in the gemstone market for advice on where to go. If you still don’t have any luck some good insider info is that you can run background checks on vendors’ credentials and history.
Similar to inclusions, pay attention to symmetry. A clear and cleanly cut gemstone might look expensive, but it’s another consumer misconception. Perfect symmetry is a sign that the rock has been altered in some way, or is even completely synthetic.
Know who you are buying for, and make your decision based on their personality. The consumer market for jewelry has two kinds of buyers. The first makes a purchase based on philosophies of feng shui, while the second type makes a decision solely based on style and design.
Figure out if they choose their gemstones based on energy, design, or their birthday. If you’re buying for a person from an Asian country the energy of the gemstone could be very important. People of Asian descent may connect with the stone that aligns with the year they were born whereas in western cultures the focus is on the specific month.
How is Precita different to other brick and mortar gemstone shops?
We feel that Precita is setting a new trend for millennials that are interested in buying gemstones in Vietnam. We offer unique, modern designs that you won’t find elsewhere in the city. Our innovative approach to gemstone settings, like the applications of Miracle and Cluster, are another way we separate ourselves from the competition.
Miracle setting is a big trend right now, especially with Millenials. It’s a faceted approach to assembly which makes the stone appear larger than it really is. This gives the look of a large stone while avoiding a big price tag. Not many other places are doing that yet.
We also sell high-quality gemstones in Vietnam and for a fair price. Although jewelry at Precita is luxurious, it’s also affordable. You don’t have to be rich to buy a beautiful gemstone in Vietnam.
What is some additional advice you would give someone buying a gemstone in Vietnam as a gift? How can you predict the best choice with so many options available?
Pay attention to the colors the receiver wears so you can find a gemstone that matches with their style and sense of fashion. Age is another important factor for Vietnamese consumers. More mature women tend to be drawn towards big stones with classic designs. However, modern trends will show many younger women prefer modern oversized designs.
If there is no need for an element of surprise, I suggest you take the person shopping with you. Many women love the experience of jewelry shopping just as much as wearing the piece. It’s not a bad thing to let the person receiving the gemstone to pick it out for themselves.
If you’re still unsure what to buy, we offer an exclusive “hinting” service. If you choose to, give us the receiver’s phone number and our staff will secretly work with them…they won’t know who the buyer is. This is a simple way to narrow down your search and pinpoint an item that will fit their personality wonderfully.
What other items are hot among the younger demographic right now?
Precita has a wide collection of gemstones set inside heart-shaped pendants and earrings assembled with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. We have ten colors to choose from and the price is very affordable.
Another item that does well is our mixed set earring packages. They come with four pairs of earrings, resulting in twenty possible ways to mix and match the items. Women love to play around with different combinations of jewelry and fashion items as a way to customize their own look.
Which gemstones are good investments right now? Are there any specific gemstones you can buy cheaply with a good return on your investment?
If you are serious about investing now, I would suggest a high-quality Burmese ruby or Ceylon sapphire. These gemstones will never decrease in value if taken care of. Alternatively, new discoveries, like the neon spinel discovered in Tanzania in 2007, provide new opportunities for collectors.
Are there any gemstone markets in Vietnam worth visiting?
As mentioned before, you can go straight to the source at the Luc Yen market in Yen Bai. They sell gemstones at those markets like vegetables at any wet market in Vietnam.
There are also lots of mom and pop shops in the Ben Thanh Center on Le Thanh Ton street, but I would only recommend this market to the experienced buyer. Ben Thanh Market is more for tourists and if you are uninformed you could easily buy a synthetic or heated stone. But, if you are educated about jewelry go ahead and see what you find!
If that doesn’t work out, you can always check out An Dong market in District 5 if you want other options for shopping for gemstones in Vietnam.