Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Likely Is It You Have a REAL Thai Amulet?

We spent some time looking online for Thai amulets lately and we have come to a conclusion... if you didn't buy your amulet directly from a temple - you almost definitely have a fake amulet.

1. Thais that buy amulets from temples very rarely resell them. They buy an amulet to either wear themselves, give to others to wear, or to put on their Buddhist altar at home. They don't sell them because quite frankly, they don't feel right about selling amulets they bought. It isn't Thai style. Now, that isn't to say there aren't Thais that try to make a living at this. There are. There are amulet shops and markets all over Thailand. They are selling some amulets from temples, and some from jewelry shops. They are selling some real and some fake amulets. Which is which? You'd never know.

2. It isn't hard to fake an amulet make of dirt. Really... The oldest amulets are made of clay - dirt, usually. If made of metal, wood, bone, plastic, or anything else - it is NOT hard to fake and create replicas that are exactly like the original. There are a number of things one can look for to try to prove authenticity of an amulet - but guess what? Making amulets is not rocket science. There are only so many things you can do to try to fool people copying the amulet. All the authenticators are KNOWN for the best amulets. There are no secrets any more. Anyone with some knowledge about the original Som Dej amulets, for example, can create 100% authentic looking and smelling Som Dej amulets. It is absolutely impossible for you to know which you have. Please don't spend a couple thousand dollars for an amulet which might not be worth more than the dirt used to put it together.

3. The best amulets in Thailand have a lineage. There is a direct line of sales that leads back to the temple that originated it. Still this is sometimes faked, but, you will not EVER be able to sell one of your own fake amulets to a Thai collector in Bangkok that knows what he's doing because he will need to know the whereabouts of the amulet from the start. Where did it come from originally? WHo owned it first? Where do they live? Where are they now? Can the ex-owner be contacted now?

The original amulets that were made by famous monks are worth thousands of dollars USD. The chance that you bought one for $100 - is zero.

Now, that said, there are occasionally amulets sold by temples that are old or special for some reason. We do our best to find great amulets that are not generally available to others. We ask the monks if they have anything behind the case that is rare or that they don't have for sale that they would sell. We don't get thousand dollar amulets for $100, but we do get some amulets that are not on the market at all - and put them on the market for you to buy.

We don't get involved in expensive amulets because to us - we couldn't possibly know what is authentic and what isn't. I think the most expensive item we sell is a blue crystal Buddha we found at a temple not too far from here. We'll sell it for around $300 USD. Anything more expensive than that - we don't get involved with.

We have so many people that write us and ask us to look at an online photo of the amulet they have... and ask how much it might be worth.

If you don't know... the worth of the amulet is probably no more than $100. That much money is a lot to a Thai person. It is nearly half the wages for 1 month of work. That's a lot! Thais know where their expensive amulets come from. If they didn't tell you when you bought it - then it likely isn't worth much at all.

If you are considering buying an amulet over $1,000 USD - why not fly to Thailand and buy it yourself at the temple. You'll be sure to have an authentic piece without trickery. It's just a better practice than buying it online at say, Ebay or somewhere else that fake amulets are sold at a ration of 99.9999 to 1 real. Here is a lot more information on choosing real vs. fake amulets.

Best of luck to you!

Metta,

JB

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