To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Abstract: I have been in the jade trade for years. So when the two boys obtained their Graduate Gemologist (GG) qualification from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York City when they were 18 years of age, they followed me to Myanmar on numerous occasions to buy jade and other gemstones. It was to expose them to the harsh reality of the commercial world. And these boys learned fast, much better than the old dog they were following.

Thus it was said that, good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.

I have learnt a lot of hard-knock lessons in the past in buying jade and gemstones. Lessons learnt may be due to stupidity or an innocence born of being too eager, too fast and too hungry.

But when you were in the thick of the action in the market, one tend to get carried away. When you were shown a rough jade boulder with a small open window of intense emerald green, you just would not resist the temptation to make a deal even when your gut instinct told you otherwise.

I worked out a base price and waited for the opening gambit of the seller. I counter-offered. I was prepared to walk away without a deal. Wasn’t it the best strategy for a buyer that he could walk away without a deal. Yes, in theory, but in actual practice, a persuasive seller could shake the monies out of your wallet faster that you could justify the purchase. So I blew it big time, many times. But then on some rather odd occasions, I did make some windfall.

But one must be aware of this.  Every jade buying experience was unique.  There was no one set of rules that applied in all situations or one glove that fit all.  Your buying power became better and better with more purchases.  This was all in the game, you just had to learn and learn. Sometimes you might land a big fish by paying a small paltry sum, sometimes you paid a humongous lot of greenbacks and got yourself a lemon.

Or even when we bid at the jade auction, it was still a gamble.

But at times I also learnt to throw caution to the wind.  When my air fare, accommodation, travelling expenses and time in a foreign country were factored in, I would not hesitate to buy an item if it was affordable and within my budget.  It was better for me to regret buying an item than to regret not buying it.  I too have seen many travelers where they would not dish out any money even for a small affordable item for fear of getting cheated by the seller.  These were the buyers who would not get nowhere. 

So it all came down to your appetite for risk taking.  Luck – 50%, Foolishness – 30% and Skill – 20%.

And you hope that the odds would not be stacked against you and the percentages of the above three factors would somehow reverse.

But then again, what I might lose, the two boys would gain more insight in the business world.

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