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Finns find gold in Phuket



PHUKET: A Finnish company has opened its first Thailand branch in Phuket, giving jewelry owners a unique opportunity to cash in old gold – regardless of its karat rating.

The ‘GoldToMoney’ shop, located at Chalong Circle, may deceive passers-by because it has not an ounce of gold on display.

That’s because the company does not sell gold. It only buys it.

Branch Manager Jori Lassila explained the company specializes in buying broken or “worn out” gold jewelry that has little ornamental value and may otherwise be hard to sell.

Once bought by the company, the jewelry is exported from Phuket to Finland.

There the gold is extracted from the jewelry, melted down and refined into 24 karat ingot at the company’s smelting facilities.

The company then sells the gold to industries that may use the ingot in making certain electronic products, or even in dentistry.

“If we buy something from you, it is a guarantee that you will never see it again because we intend to melt it down and resell it as pure gold pieces,” said Mr Lassila, with a hint of humor.

“Our target is to buy ornamental gold that may be so worn out that gold shops may be unwilling to give sellers a good price for it. Gold ornaments are priced largely for their handiwork. If a piece of gold bullion was worth one million baht, the same weight in ornamental gold may be worth three to four million baht,” he explained.

“However, if buyers were to take their broken or worn out jewelry to a normal gold shop, they may not be compensated as much because gold shops buy ornamental gold pieces with the intention of reselling them as jewelry.”

“If a piece of gold jewelry is really old or broken beyond repair, it may need to be melted down and refashioned, with the cost being passed on to the seller.”

“We compensate our customers for only the price of the gold. Because we are not going to refashion the gold again, we can offer sellers a better price,” he explained.

Being a specialist gold buyer, the company is able to buy gold of a purity as low as eight karats, far below that accepted by most gold shops in Thailand.

“We are also able to compensate sellers with large amounts of cash at one time, owing to our international business connections and high liquidity,” explained Mr Lassila.

Regarding the potential problem of customers trying to sell stolen or illegal items, Kati Lassila said the company requires strict proof of identity – either passport or ID card – from sellers.

“We carefully document each piece of jewelry by taking photographs and filing descriptions,” she explained.

“The company also has access to a database that is operated by the Gold Traders Association of Thailand. Before buying the more expensive pieces, the company can search the database to see if the item is listed as stolen,” she added.

The Phuket branch is the latest outlet for the international chain which also has stores in Finland, Sweden, France and Estonia.

Proper marketing has seen the firm’s business expand quite rapidly.

Business is often slow for the first three months at each start-up because the concept is quite new,” said Mr Lassila.

— Anand Singh


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