BANGKOK — A database is being set up here to inject order into the multibillion-dollar market in colored gemstones, but traders don't want the mystery, or the profit, taken out of their business.
Tony Valente, president of California-based American Gem Market System, plans to set up the database in the Thai capital, a major gems trading center, in May.
He said the system would help in the elusive task of standardizing the grading and pricing of colored stones.
Valente said many potential gemstone purchasers felt uncomfortable because they lacked experience, did not have access to information and often had to rely on middlemen.
"Thailand's sales of colored stones in places like the United States would be much stronger if more dealers felt comfortable purchasing them," he said.
The database, accessible through a video screen, would provide dealers with information on the availability of stones and give guidelines on pricing, he said.
Valente said some middlemen abused the shortage of information and the mystery surrounding the gem trade to fool the unwary.
The company, which will be registered as the Thai Gem Market System, will be jointly owned by a Thai partner, the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences.
The institute, which currently assesses gems for clients as part of its services, will set up the grading system based on a consensus of information from dealers here.
Valente said Bangkok, one of the world's biggest suppliers of colored stones, was the obvious place for the system. More than half the world's sapphires, rubies, jade and topazes are mined or cut in Thailand.