Abstract A brief overview of organizational and locational tendencies in the gem and jewelry industry is provided. The central gem and jewelry industrial districts of Los Angeles and Bangkok are then described in detail on the basis of both questionnaire surveys and personal interview data. The relations of production and exchange in both districts are shown to depend strongly on institutional arrangements that ensure security and trust. However, security and trust alone do not necessarily guarantee competitive success. Unlike producers in Los Angeles, producers in Bangkok have been extremely effective in securing forceful political expression of their needs and goals, and this helps in part to explain the vastly more dynamic character of the industry in Bangkok.