Sunday, July 21, 2024

Idlib Jewelers Resort to Broken Gold Amid Import Barriers, Quality Concerns Arise

Idlib, Syria— Jewelers in Idlib are increasingly using broken gold to craft new jewelry due to significant barriers in importing gold bars. This practice has raised concerns about the quality and exportability of locally produced gold items.

Import Barriers and Cost Discrepancies

The inability to import gold bars stems from various issues, including general import restrictions and the high cost of bringing gold bars into the region. Abdullah al-Masri, Director-General of Industry in the Ministry of Economy of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) in Idlib, highlighted a price discrepancy of approximately USD 1.2 per gram, or around USD 1,200 per bar, making gold bars prohibitively expensive for local jewelers. Consequently, workshop owners are compelled to use broken gold as an alternative.

Quality Concerns

Experts warn that reusing broken gold degrades the quality of new jewelry. This practice restricts the marketability of these items to local consumers, as they fail to meet international quality standards required for export. Dr. Firas Shaabo, an expert in financial and banking sciences, noted that the absence of state control and official monitoring exacerbates the issue, leading to potential fraud and manipulation.

Gold Types and Market Dynamics

The predominant type of gold in Idlib is 21-karat, used for most market pieces. In contrast, 24-karat gold is reserved for bars and ounces, and 14-karat gold is typically used for gifts to children. There is no market for 18-karat gold due to lack of demand.

Despite these challenges, the gold market in Idlib remains active. According to al-Masri, demand is moderate, with buying and selling activities peaking outside the winter season. The price of 21-karat gold stands at USD 66 per gram (2,112 Turkish lira).

Operational Challenges

Goldsmiths in Idlib face numerous operational challenges, including the lack of maintenance for crafting machines, difficulty in importing equipment and wax models, and a scarcity of skilled labor. Musab al-Aswad from the Goldsmiths Association pointed out that there is no legal framework permitting the import of gold bars into Idlib. While some bars are smuggled in, they are available only in small quantities and at inflated prices.

Fraud and Consumer Protection

Fraud is a significant issue in Idlib’s gold market, with instances of weight tampering, selling old gold as new, and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge. Consumers are advised to keep receipts to hold goldsmiths accountable for fraudulent practices.

New Market Developments

In April, a new gold market opened in the city of al-Dana, boasting 30 shops with potential for expansion. Despite the high-quality decor, there are concerns that the market may not see expected sales volumes due to residents’ limited purchasing power and focus on basic needs.


The reliance on broken gold in Idlib underscores the broader economic challenges faced by the region’s goldsmiths. While the local market remains functional, quality issues and import barriers limit growth and the potential for international trade. Efforts to address these challenges are crucial for ensuring the sustainability and integrity of Idlib’s gold crafting industry.

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