Common stones sold under false pretenses

Gemstone sellers in Basra battle against fraudsters tarnishing their trade

BASRA — In the bustling Al-Zubair market located southwest of Basra, gemstone sellers express frustration over the negative impact charlatans have on their trade. These fraudsters mislead customers by claiming certain gemstones can ward off sorcery or prevent a spouse from seeing undesirable traits, as they presented to 964media a list of rare and in-demand gemstones with prices reaching up to $6,000.

Vendors in Al-Zubair highlight a major issue: their profession has increasingly become a a place where fraudsters peddle common stones under the guise of offering religious or social benefits, such as protection against witchcraft or enhancing luck and prosperity.

Amir Al-Aboudi, a gemstone seller, shared with 964media that gemstones peak in popularity during religious events, when customers purchase rings engraved with Quranic verses and ornate prayer beads. He noted some stones are especially prized for their unique fragrance, a result of their rarity and quality.

Although the gemstone trade can be highly profitable, it has lately been marred by deceitful practices.

Stones imported from countries like Yemen, Indonesia, Iran, and India draw in the youth with their vivid colors, enticing purchases regardless of the stones’ inherent value or quality.

The most popular stones sold include, onyx, Abbas Abad Travertine, Sulemani Hakik, and Dawoody agate. These are favored for their religious significance and affordability, with prices ranging from $50 to $400.

Conversely, raw stones sourced from local mines and archaeological digs garner less interest due to their steep prices, which can surpass $1,000.

Young individuals and students often wear gemstones as fashion statements, attracted by their vibrant hues and detailed craftsmanship.

Authentic stones like sapphire, emerald, jade, red coral, and emerald are available but attract fewer buyers because of their high price tags, sometimes reaching $2,000.

Gemstone aficionados are drawn to unique pieces known to originate from authentic and natural sources, with some reportedly dating back to the Abbasid or Sasanian eras, ensuring their value appreciates over time.

Currently, the market for modern stones such as emerald, diamond, and opal is considered weak, with prices that can rise to $6,000 or more.

Hussein Fadel, a jeweler, remarked, “Stones hold special meaning for their owners. While some adhere to ancient customs and beliefs, like influencing heart rates or bringing luck and prominence, others simply enjoy them as decorative accessories to complement their attire, which represents the majority of market participants.”

Khaled Masir, a customer, confessed his passion for gemstones, stating, “Half of my monthly income is spent on stones. I visit the market daily in pursuit of rare finds, indifferent to the cost. This fascination is a family legacy, as we believe in the stones’ power to cleanse the body of impurities and heal the soul from malevolence.”