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India’s “Pink City”: one of the most important centres for lapidary in the world.

Gem sources in Thailand have dwindled dramatically over the last 20 years or so and even though it remains a very important country for trading gemstones, Jaipur in India is now taking centre stage for gem cutting and trading. So much so, that when we decided to open our first gem selection and sorting office, rather than using our existing offices in Bangkok, we decided to open a new facility right in the bustling heart of Jaipur.

The city is also known as the Pink City, as most of the buildings are pink, especially those within the old city. Jaipur is also famous for its coloured treasures: even Prince Charles, Mick Jagger, the Queen of Spain and a host of Hollywood stars have visited in search of their own very special piece of jewellery or in hope of finding a rare gemstone. And when you consider that the city does not yet have an international airport and is almost impossible to drive in, you start to realise the lengths the rich and famous will go to in order to make life colourful!

The city’s association with gemstones can be traced back over two hundred and fifty years, and throughout this period it has been the most important city in the world for cutting Emeralds. The picture to the left shows a small team of lapidarists still using the traditional technique for faceting Emeralds. By slowly moving their bow backwards and forwards, the string which wraps around the central driving mechanism slowly starts rotating the grinding wheel. Using their other hand the lapidarist facets the gem on the wheel in a technique that hasn’t changed for two and a half centuries.

If you are into gemstones and ever visit India, then be sure to spend at least four or five days in Jaipur. As well as being able to see the bustling gem trade, you can visit the city’s many historical sites and palaces. For me, I find it one of the most beautiful and interesting cities on the planet.

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Gem cutters in Jaipur.



Manuj Goyal, John Bennett & Andrew Smith(centre) with part of the Tookalon team.