Brazilian gold as a substitute for real gold in Daraa

A shop selling Brazilian gold in the city of Daraa - November 22, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Sarah al-Ahmad)

A shop selling Brazilian gold in the city of Daraa - November 22, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Sarah al-Ahmad)


Daraa – Sarah al-Ahmad

Shops selling fake gold, or what is known locally as “Brazilian gold,” in the city of Daraa, southern Syria, have witnessed a noticeable recent increase in demand for it, given the rising prices of real gold.

The price of a gram of real gold, 21 carats, has reached 800,000 Syrian pounds, and the price of a gram of 18-carat gold is 686,000 pounds, as published by the Syrian Goldsmiths and Craftsmen Association on December 18.

To reduce the cost

Nada from Daraa city agreed with her fiancé that he would buy the engagement ring only from real gold and the rest from Brazilian gold for their engagement party two months ago in order to reduce the cost on him, as she told Enab Baladi.

The cost of the engagement ring made of real gold is about 3.8 million pounds, with a weight not exceeding 3.5 grams.

And because she did not want to wear the ring alone, Nada persuaded her fiancé to buy three bracelets made of Brazilian gold at a price of 250,000 pounds, as a form of adornment and in compliance with her mother’s words, “It’s only to silence people.”

Wisal, from the village of Tayyibah in the countryside of Daraa, had a different reason for buying Brazilian gold than Nada’s, as she told Enab Baladi that she had to sell her gold two years ago when the price of 21-carat gold was about 146,000 pounds, for an amount of nine million pounds to secure the travel expenses for her sons to the Emirates.

Due to the difficult living conditions, Wisal was unable to later compensate for her golden jewelry, coinciding with the significant increase in gold prices, which prompted her to buy a chain, two rings, and a necklace made of Brazilian gold at a cost of 300,000 pounds, to appear with them during occasions with relatives, as in her opinion, a woman cannot appear at events without wearing gold, even if it is not real.

One of the reasons that led her to choose Brazilian gold is that it is not easy to distinguish it from real gold.

Wissam from Daraa al-Balad told Enab Baladi that the concept of buying gold is no longer associated with the status of the wife and her value to her husband.

Wissam explained that during her engagement period and before her wedding last August, her fiancé found a house for rent in Daraa al-Mahatta after a long search for a monthly amount of 200,000 pounds.

After calculating the costs of the wedding and their ability to pay the rent for several months, Wissam decided to sell the engagement ring to pay the rent for a year. After persuading her fiancé to sell it without her family knowing, the couple bought a ring made of Brazilian gold to be worn instead of the engagement ring in order to prevent problems that they might face if her family knew about selling the ring.

Properties of Brazilian gold

It is not easy to distinguish between real gold and Brazilian gold, according to Hussam, a seller of Brazilian gold in the city of Daraa. Hussam stated that there are no dedicated shops for selling Brazilian gold in the city of Daraa, but it is sold in accessories and ornament shops or silver jewelry shops.

Due to the demand for Brazilian gold, some real gold shops have specialized in selling this type of gold.

Hussam pointed out that Brazilian gold cannot be distinguished from real gold except by jewelers and experienced individuals, and the color of Brazilian gold cannot change unless it is exposed to chlorine or alcohol.

The price of an engagement ring made of Brazilian gold ranges between 100,000 and 300,000 pounds depending on its weight and shape, and the price of some sets of Brazilian gold ranges between 700,000 and one million Syrian pounds.

In June 2022, the head of the Goldsmiths Association in Syria, Ghassan al-Jazmati, warned against buying Brazilian gold, likening those who buy it to those who “throw their money recklessly,” as it is not originally gold, according to him.

Al-Jazmati explained that Brazilian gold is a metallic mixture of lead and tin, closely resembling the color and luster of real gold, but it is “worthless.”

According to al-Jazmati, Brazilian gold has spread over the past few years due to successive waves of inflation and the decline in people’s purchasing power, and it has witnessed some interest for occasions that require its presence. However, it cannot replace real gold because it is an accessory with no value, in his opinion.

Al-Jazmati expressed his regret for the presence of Brazilian gold in some shops, as it is even offered in its advertising boards under the name Brazilian gold instead of putting the name “imitation jewelry” or “accessories” because the term “Brazilian gold” is “prohibited” as it is not real gold, and presenting it in this manner is “deception of the people,” according to him.

The US dollar is trading at 14,200 SYP according to the S-P Today website, which covers the trading rate of the Syrian pound to the dollar. At the start of the conflict in 2011, the dollar was trading at 47 pounds.


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