Projected to produce $300 billion in global sales by 2020, it’s no question that the international jewelry industry is flourishing. While jewelry can transform any drab outfit, its symbolism means so much more. Each piece tells a story from the moment it leaves the maker to the second it’s on your body.
So whether you’re a collector or an avid window shopper, take your next shopping trip beyond the local boutiques to one of these jewelry districts around the world.
1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Go for the: Gold
As recent as 2014, Dubai’s gold trade reached $75 billion. One of the cheapest and most popular places to buy gold is the Deira Gold Souk, where over 400 shops sell bracelets, bangles, pendants, and other jewelry at affordable rates.
Pro Tip: Vendors are known for overcharging tourists, so put your haggling skills to work.
2. Prague, Czech Republic
Go for the: Garnet
Famous for its bohemian garnet, Prague both mines and sells these deep red gemstones. Prices vary depending on quality and size so make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable dealer.
Granat Turnov, the largest producer of bohemian garnet, is a reliable retail outlet with three locations around the city.
3. Hong Kong
Go for the: Jade
Located in Tsim Sha Tsiu, Hong Kong’s Jade Market is home to hundreds of vendors. High demand has led to counterfeit production, so ask vendors for a certificate of authenticity. Without one, there’s a good chance their jade isn’t the real deal.
4. Tokyo, Japan
Go for the: Pearl
Opened in 1963, Yonamine Pearls offers an assortment of South Sea and fresh water pearls. This family-owned shop customizes pieces based on your skin tone and personal taste. While a great value, such dedication can get pricey. For more affordable prices, check out the shops in Okachimachi.
5. Antwerp, Belgium
Go for the: Diamond
Until the eighteenth century, a majority of the world’s diamonds came from India. However, during trade relations between Europe and Eastern Asia, Antwerp’s superior facilities placed the city at the center of the diamond trade.
With the lowest prices and the broadest selection of cuts, Antwerp has become the diamond capital, with several square blocks occupied by diamond shops in the city’s Diamond District.
6. Mogok, Myanmar
Go for the: Ruby
Producing 90% of the world's rubies, Myanmar has been an integral part of the gem industry for centuries. Mogok, also known as the “Valley of Rubies,” serves as both a mining and trading hub for the precious stone. In the heart of the city, brokers and dealers fill the streets of Pan Shan Market selling rough cut stones off brass trays.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
Go for the: Amber
With the highest quality assortment, House of Amber is the prized jewel of Copenhagen’s amber industry. If you’d rather look than purchase, head across town to House of Amber’s Museum, where breathtaking pieces showcase from around the world. You can feast your eyes on history with amber rocks preserving 30 million-year-old insects inside.
8. Kandy, Sri Lanka
Go for the: Sapphire
Considered a mecca of gemology, Sri Lanka is a global provider of many jewels; however, sapphire’s the most celebrated. You can find this gem all over the country, but Kandy is the place to go for a wide range of reputed shops. Fake stones circulate throughout the market, so play it safe by visiting shops recommended by the National Gem & Jewelry Authority.
9. Bogotá, Colombia
Go for the: Emerald
Bogotá supplies more than 90% of the world with emeralds. In the center of the city, you’ll find the Emerald District, where jewels come from the mines to be sculpted and polished.
Traders also crowd the streets to sell, trade, and exchange. But be weary of a scam called cambiazo, where traders try to swap fake stones for the real ones you’ve purchased.
10. Coober Pedy, Australia
Go for the: Opal
Smack in the middle of South Australia, Coober Pedy is famous for mining and selling opal. Local retailers have more on display than anywhere else in the world. But if you’re looking to make an experience out of your shopping trip, try fossicking (digging) for your own opal through the waste rocks discarded by the miners.