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Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Thailand. The highlight of the visit was surely the Grand Palace in Bangkok. About 100 richly adorned buildings grace this complex, once the official residence of the Thai Royal Family and the administrative seat of the country.

No camera could truly capture the breathtaking sight once inside and judging from constant clicking, not for want of trying. Everywhere there were ornate roofs, gilded statues of mythical beasts, intricately decorated walls and Carrera marble. What looked like gold is gold.

Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most important and sacred temple in Thailand is located here. The Emerald Buddha, about 0.5 metre high, is actually jade not emerald. and is clothed in gold. There are three sets of gold clothing, changed each season by the King. The statue sits high on top of a richly decorated dais inside the hall called the Ubosoth.

4 August 2009 (2009-08-04)Image via Wikipedia

Its early history is unknown - it may not have been Thai in origin. The statute first turns up in historical accounts in the 15th century after lightning struck a pagoda in Chiang Rai and the stucco covering it broke off revealing the gemstone carving inside. The historic icon was moved to its present site in 1784, not long after the Grand Palace was built.

The statue is small as statues go, but from a gemstone perspective, it is a large jade specimen and thus rare.

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Phra Nakho...Temple of the Emerald Buddha via Wikipedia

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