MUSCAT, July 15 – Hundreds of people who are buying precious stones have no clue what they are purchasing. Authorised vendors are warning them against purchasing the same from unscrupulous traders or unknown sources. “Many operate through social media; most of them do not possess commercial registration or a certificate of quality from an authorised agency,” they said. “Even as many gemstone vendors are duping people of thousands of rials, there are those who blindly believe such stones bring luck and wealth and don’t mind paying any sum to acquire them,” Hamed al Raisi, a prominent gem merchant from Barka, says.
This is partly because of their ignorance about the quality of stones or their trust in the vendor.
“A Yaqoot stone or a Fairuz stone from Iran, for instance, is available for as low as RO 5 to RO 5,000. Here, they are cashing in on buyers’ ignorance,” says Al Raisi, who deals with more than 1,000 varieties of precious stones.
The Directorate-General of Standards and Metrology (DGSM) at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) recently urged customers to purchase precious stones from authorised vendors and get them checked by experts. The advice follows complaints of cheating by unscrupulous vendors.
“According to Article 7 of Royal Decree 109/2000, it is not permissible to sell valuable stones unless they are accompanied by a card indicating the name of the stone, its class, weight, colour and quality, in terms of purity, properties and safety from breaking,” said Nasser bin Ashraf al Balushi, Head of the Precious Stones Department and Testing Laboratory at the DGSM.
While diamonds, sapphires, and rubies are the most valuable among gemstones, such stones from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have a huge demand across the country.
Vendors of substandard gemstones advertise on social media or stick small bills with their contact numbers on walls in some areas. Upon receiving calls, they convince people about the “power of these stones in finding a remedy to their problems,” according to an authorised vendor in Ruwi.
“Customers are told such stones would bring them a fortune and help them ward off evil forces,” said Ramesh Poojari, another vendor in Ruwi.
“Cheating in gemstone business is very rampant. Consumers should buy precious stones from shops specialising in selling these stones and not from indigenous merchants or hawkers. These specialised shops are inspected periodically by specialists from the Directorate-General of Standards and Metrology at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,” said an MoCI spokesperson.