Sunday, 2 November 2008
Gold has a deeper meaning to many Thais than just being a precious metal made for the making of coins, rings, necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry. Thailand's former name was Siam and this means gold in Sanskrit. The Chinese called the country as Jin Lin, which means "peninsula of gold". Gold is also often mentioned in important Thai Buddhist literature, and Buddha is described as having a "skin of gold". Gold is also often used in the making of Buddha statues and other religious objects and artifacts.
All over Thailand, in every small or big city, you can find Gold shops, just like or similar to the one pictured above. The supposedly best place in Thailand to buy gold is Yaowarat Road in Chinatown in Bangkok.
A typical display in a typical Gold shop in Thailand. In the bigger cities, the amount of gold on display can be astonishing and can be easily worht while a couple of million Baht.
Thai gold jewelry often has a purity of 96,5% gold, which is equivalent to 23 karat. The remaining 3,5% consist of alloys such as silver and bronze. Some shops also provides 22, 20 or 18 karat jewelry.
Lower karat objects has become a little more common in Thailand nowadays, partly inspired by "western" or so called "farang gold". Generally speaking, the higher karat a gold object has, the softer it is. For that reason, a lower karat can be recommended for rings and thin jewelry.
The Thai gold often has an intense "yellow" color due to the high carat.
Thais use a unique unit of measurement for weighing gold, the "baht" which is precisely 15.244 grams before the gold is worked or 15.16 grams after. Most gold shops will display on their windows the current buying and selling price of a "baht" of gold bullion of 96.5% purity.
As displayed here, the current price for one baht of gold is 12.500,-THB, in contrast to one week ago when it was almost 14.000,-THB. Right now, a lot of people buy lots of gold in Thailand due to it's beneficial price. Just to compare, about 10 years ago, one baht of gold was 'just' 6.000,-THB.
Gold can also be measured in "satangs" and "salungs". 100 satangs = 1 baht and 25 satangs = 1 salung.1 baht in approximately half an ounce of gold (1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams) so a rough and ready way to calculate the value is to divide the price of gold in ounces by 2.
The baht is also the Thai currency unit which is somewhat confusing!