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In about a week and a half, we're off again for one of my traipses across the
known world.  Without giving away all the details, I guess it's OK to admit
that it's hard to keep track of how much stuff costs (or should cost) in the
plethora of currencies that we'll be using along the way.  I've found it
convenient to create spreadsheets (the original is colored to make it easier
to read) with how many dollars a 100 of anything is, and how much of anything
$100 is.  Since we will be visiting at least two locations with gold market
I am pricing gold in terms of various karate values and in various weight systems
(troy, metric, Chinese, Thai, etc.) in terms of the most likely currencies
(Sorry about the "????", but that's how the conversion to TMF's shows the Arabic for UAE Dirhams)

I also included a smaller matrix for silver (just in case).
By changing the gold and silver price, the chart recalculates.
I find that coming prepared can save a lot of money and prevent (or at least reduce) idiot mistakes 

Jeff

                 Euro         GBP Jordanian DinaUAE (AED) Di   Oman Rial Indian RupeeSri Lanka Rupe
100 US Doll        76.3       62.92          70.6      367.23        38.41        5225        12,822

              100 Euro     100 GBP 100 Jordanian 100 UAE Dirh100 Oman Rial100 Indian R100 Sri Lanka
US Dollars      $131.06     $158.93       $141.64      $27.23      $260.35       $1.91         $0.78

           Malasia Ring  Thai baht   Singapore $   Egypt Pnd Tunesian DinaMorrocan Dirham
100 US Doll      306.28     3088.35        125.94      601.86       151.84      847.42
           100 Malasia 100 Thai bah100 Singapore 100 Egypt Pn100 Tunesian 100 Morrocan    12/24/2012
UD Dollars       $32.65       $3.24        $79.40      $16.62       $65.86      $11.80

                   24k         23K           22K         21K          18K         14K
1 Troy Oz G   $1,659.00   $1,589.88     $1,520.75   $1,451.63    $1,244.25     $967.75
 Gram Gold       $53.34      $51.12        $48.89      $46.67       $40.00      $31.111 TrOz=31.1035
Grain Gold        $3.46       $3.31         $3.17       $3.02        $2.59       $2.021 TrOz=480 gra
 Baht Gold      $800.07     $766.74       $733.40     $700.06      $600.05     $466.711 TrOz=2.07356
 Teal Gold    $1,995.78   $1,912.62     $1,829.46   $1,746.30    $1,496.83   $1,164.201 TrOz=.83126

                   100%       0.975           0.9
1 Troy Oz S     $31.59      $30.80        $28.43
Gram Silver      $1.02       $0.99         $0.91                                      1 TrOz=31.1035
Grain Silve      $0.07       $0.06         $0.06                                      1 TrOz=480 gra
Baht Silver     $15.80      $15.40        $14.22                                      1 TrOz=2.07356
Teal Silver     $38.00      $37.05        $34.20                                      1 TrOz=.83126

UAE Dirham         24k         23K           22K         21K          18K         14K
1 Troy Oz G?.?.? 6,092.?.?.? 5,838.?.?.? 5,584.65?.?.? 5,330.?.?.? 4,569.2?.?.? 3,553.87
 Gram Gold ?.?.? 195.87?.?.? 187.71 ?.?.? 179.55 ?.?.? 171.39?.?.? 146.91 ?.?.? 114.26
Grain Gold ?.?.? 12.69 ?.?.? 12.16   ?.?.? 11.63 ?.?.? 11.11   ?.?.? 9.52  ?.?.? 7.40
 Baht Gold ?.?.? 2,938.?.?.? 2,815.?.?.? 2,693.26?.?.? 2,570.?.?.? 2,203.5?.?.? 1,713.89
 Teal Gold ?.?.? 7,329.?.?.? 7,023.?.?.? 6,718.33?.?.? 6,412.?.?.? 5,496.8?.?.? 4,275.30

 Thai Baht         24k         23K           22K         21K          18K         14K
1 Troy Oz GTHB 51,235.7THB 49,100.9 THB 46,966.08THB 44,831.2THB 38,426.79THB 29,887.51
 Gram Gold THB 1,647.27THB 1,578.63  THB 1,509.99THB 1,441.36 THB 1,235.45  THB 960.91
Grain Gold   THB 106.74  THB 102.29     THB 97.85   THB 93.40    THB 80.06   THB 62.27
 Baht Gold THB 24,709.0THB 23,679.4 THB 22,649.92THB 21,620.3THB 18,531.75THB 14,413.59
 Teal Gold THB 61,636.5THB 59,068.3 THB 56,500.20THB 53,932.0THB 46,227.43THB 35,954.67
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Formatted better:

                                                                                                                   12/24/2012

                  Euro         GBP  Jordanian Dinar UAE (AED) Dirham       Oman Rial       Indian Rupee      Sri Lanka Rupee
100 US Doll        76.3       62.92             70.6          367.23            38.41               5225               12,822

              100 Euro     100 GBP 100 Jordanian Din 100 UAE Dirham    100 Oman Rial   100 Indian Rupee  100 Sri Lanka Rupee
US Dollars      $131.06     $158.93          $141.64          $27.23          $260.35              $1.91                $0.78

           Malasia Ring  Thai baht      Singapore $       Egypt Pnd   Tunesian Dinar    Morrocan Dirham
100 US Doll      306.28     3088.35           125.94          601.86           151.84             847.42
           100 Malasia 100 Thai bah 100 Singapore $   100 Egypt Pnd 100 Tunesian Dina100 Morrocan Dirham
UD Dollars       $32.65       $3.24           $79.40          $16.62           $65.86             $11.80

                   24k         23K              22K             21K              18K                14K
1 Troy Oz G   $1,659.00   $1,589.88        $1,520.75       $1,451.63        $1,244.25            $967.75
 Gram Gold       $53.34      $51.12           $48.89          $46.67           $40.00             $31.11 1 TrOz=31.1035 gram
Grain Gold        $3.46       $3.31            $3.17           $3.02            $2.59              $2.02   1 TrOz=480 grains
 Baht Gold      $800.07     $766.74          $733.40         $700.06          $600.05            $466.711 TrOz=2.07356512 bah
 Teal Gold    $1,995.78   $1,912.62        $1,829.46       $1,746.30        $1,496.83          $1,164.20  1 TrOz=.83126 Teal

                   100%       0.975              0.9
1 Troy Oz S     $31.59      $30.80           $28.43
Gram Silver      $1.02       $0.99            $0.91                                                      1 TrOz=31.1035 gram
Grain Silve      $0.07       $0.06            $0.06                                                        1 TrOz=480 grains
Baht Silver     $15.80      $15.40           $14.22                                                     1 TrOz=2.07356512 bah
Teal Silver     $38.00      $37.05           $34.20                                                       1 TrOz=.83126 Teal

UAE Dirham         24k         23K              22K             21K              18K                14K
1 Troy Oz G?.?.? 6,092.?.?.? 5,838.  ?.?.? 5,584.65  ?.?.? 5,330.80   ?.?.? 4,569.26     ?.?.? 3,553.87
 Gram Gold ?.?.? 195.87?.?.? 187.71    ?.?.? 179.55    ?.?.? 171.39     ?.?.? 146.91       ?.?.? 114.26
Grain Gold ?.?.? 12.69 ?.?.? 12.16      ?.?.? 11.63     ?.?.? 11.11       ?.?.? 9.52         ?.?.? 7.40
 Baht Gold ?.?.? 2,938.?.?.? 2,815.  ?.?.? 2,693.26  ?.?.? 2,570.84   ?.?.? 2,203.58     ?.?.? 1,713.89
 Teal Gold ?.?.? 7,329.?.?.? 7,023.  ?.?.? 6,718.33  ?.?.? 6,412.96   ?.?.? 5,496.82     ?.?.? 4,275.30

 Thai Baht         24k         23K              22K             21K              18K                14K
1 Troy Oz GTHB 51,235.7THB 49,100.9    THB 46,966.08   THB 44,831.26    THB 38,426.79      THB 29,887.51
 Gram Gold THB 1,647.27THB 1,578.63     THB 1,509.99    THB 1,441.36     THB 1,235.45         THB 960.91
Grain Gold   THB 106.74  THB 102.29        THB 97.85       THB 93.40        THB 80.06          THB 62.27
 Baht Gold THB 24,709.0THB 23,679.4    THB 22,649.92   THB 21,620.38    THB 18,531.75      THB 14,413.59
 Teal Gold THB 61,636.5THB 59,068.3    THB 56,500.20   THB 53,932.01    THB 46,227.43      THB 35,954.67
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Don't a lot of countries have import or export duty on gold?

A quick Google showed that India does and if you are taking a significant amount gold through a dozen countries would be worth researching.
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I normally just look up the daily interbank rate for the country I'm in, make a note of the conversion (both ways) and carry a small calculator.

In the past few years, I just use an app on my phone.
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I'm traveling by ship and, as long as anything purchased stays on-board, there's no duty payable. Technically, you could probably legally wear gold purchased elsewhere as long as you took it back on board with you.

A bigger "concern" is the adding of sales or value added taxes at time of purchase.

My current premise is that I am most likely to buy gold in Dubai and/or Thailand. In both countries, gold sales are duty free. The price of the gold is fixed at about bullion equivalent plus a negotiable add-on for the workmanship. Depending on the country/culture, gold is sold by different weight units and the chart gives me the ability to make sure that I understand the structure of the pricing being offered to me.

I have a bad habit of buying my wife a gold high karat (generally 22-23 K as 24 karat is too soft and deforms easily) one or two bangles of the same diameter at each stop where gold is commonly sold this way. I think she has about 10-12 by now. She keeps telling me to stop, but I think they look kind of cool because they are crafted in a number of different styles. Besides, I can hear her coming if she tries to sneak up on me :-)

In Thailand, this sort of gold jewelry (much of it is 24K) is used by the ethnic Chinese as a means of storing their wealth as they distrust paper money. It is not particularly highly styled, but is what it is. In Dubai, the styling (based on Indian and Yemani) is much more ornate, but I suspect the prices are higher as well as it is closer to being thought of as jewelry, rather than just conveniently shaped gold.

Jeff

Jeff
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Calculators work, but I made the list for a number of reasons:

1) I will be requiring a Monopoly set of colored paper to pay for tours, etc. and looking at the whole tableau helps me put the accumulated cost into perspective. Much of the time, we will either be on a ship (with very expensive/poorly connected internet) and much of the rest in places where my US SIM won't help my cell phone much. This lets me keep approximate track in between updates.

What may not be obvious is that this is actually a printout of an Excel spreadsheet. Once the gold price and the appropriate currency are updated, the spreadsheet recalculates.

2) It is likely that I will be buying gold (possibly silver) in a couple of places. This is sold in a variety of weights, karats (de-rating for the gold content) and in a foreign currency. While there may be a downloadable app for this, I find it more convenient to do the spreadsheet up ahead of time to prevent expensive mistakes. The alternative would be to do three or four calculations (using a constant table, currency table, etc.) for each piece I'm negotiating on. This way, once I know the units of measurement, all I have to do is multiply the weight by the appropriate box in the matrix.

I've also used similar spreadsheets in the past when negotiating currency conversion on "parallel" rates (black market). This allows for ease of knowing what's going on if unfamiliar with local currency values (especially if each day things are in flux or the currency itself changes). While calculators are useful, and of course I carry one, they only show a single dimension and if you make an typographical input error, you might not realize it in context (until it's too late). I remember, as a kid, watching my mother (who was trying to be slick in speaking a foreign language) actually bargain for a higher price - something I try to avoid.

Jeff
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Calculators work, but I made the list for a number of reasons:

If it works for you, that's fantastic. To me, it sounds more like the need to ensure the absolute best price is obtained at all times, rather than spending time enjoying these wonderful places. I've been to 68 countries in the past 10 years and at least of dozen of those countries, multiple times. I've never had to carry around a spreadsheet. I've been happy so far.


I remember, as a kid, watching my mother (who was trying to be slick in speaking a foreign language) actually bargain for a higher price - something I try to avoid.

Did she enjoy what she purchased?

You can do all this spreadsheet work, however you still might not get the best deal. How well can you negotiate? Can you tell the difference between 22K and 24K gold. Is the quality and craftsmanship of the product actually reflective of the price?

I probably paid a little too much for my Papyrus from Egypt. Then again, I had a great experience in the store and even wrote a posting about it here. I've sat down and had tea or broke bread with some vendors, listening to their story instead of haggling over a few dollars.

If only I carried a spreadsheet, maybe I could have saved a few dollars on the hand painted artwork from Rwanda, the headdress I got in Uzbekistan, the mask I got in Burundi, or the prayer scroll I got in Israel, or the gold jewelery I got in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia? For me it doesn't matter. Each one of them comes with a journey and a story. When I look at any items I purchased while traveling, I don't think about an awesome deal I scored. I think about how great and lucky I've been in my life to have been able to experience so many localities up close and personal. I relive memories of stories, places, and people I've met that also come with those items.
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GT:

Peace :-)

It sounds like you've traveled about as extensively as I have and accumulated a similar class of knick-knacks as we have. Each has a story. I enjoy the fun of negotiation, as much (maybe more) than the next guy.

When I look at an item abroad that I might be insane enough to buy, I ask myself a few questions in advance:

1) Would I buy this item if I saw it at home in a flea market?
2) If so, what is the maximum price I would pay?
3) Is my wife going to kill me in my sleep if I buy the item?
4) Is the item rational in size to allow carrying for the rest of the trip and getting it home on the airplane we are taking? (Question required after buying a handmade copper still in Lisbon and an inlaid lacquer/mother of pearl chair in Cairo's Khan Al-Khalili - both of which sit in our living room, but came close to violating rule #3 above).

When evaluating artistry, whether it's a painting, sculpture or a piece of jewelry, each of us has an emotional response which is difficult to quantify in terms of money (but of course, this has to be done).

In places where gold jewelry is a proxy for money, such as Southeast Asia and the Middle East, the ambient culture makes this job easier. In a fashion similar to selling a home based on the value of the land plus the balance for the building on the land, the cost of an item is based on the value of the material plus the cost of the craftsmanship. While I can generally tell the difference between 22/23/24 karat gold (though I do travel with a touch stone and a loupe for hallmarks), the key is to find a reliable dealer based on where the locals do their commerce. Invariably, the items of each karat value are segregated to prevent error. Since the negotiating is over the workmanship to make the trinket, the chart is meant to reduce my stress in evaluating the gold content (frequently measured in weights other than troy ounces). Since I already understand the rules of the game, it's silly not to prepare ahead of time. It doesn't mean I won't enjoy myself (and at least in the Gulf end up drinking countless cups of coffee or tea as various friendly verbal wrestling matches take place). In Thailand, the gold merchants are busy and the transaction more business oriented).
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