Argentinas tourism officials are struggling to track down their precious treasures and say the country is on the brink of an economic disaster.
They say the state has lost around 70% of the gold, diamonds and pearl jewelry they have, and are struggling with a shortage of manpower.
But for some Argentinas, they are not the only ones who have lost out.
A recent report by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) shows the country has lost at least 10% of its jewelry exports over the past five years.
It also found that the share of jewelry in imports has fallen by a third since 2008.
Argentina’s government has blamed the drop on poor economic conditions, the rise of Chinese competitors, and the closure of the nation’s gold and diamond mines.
But critics say the government has done little to address the crisis.
“The problem is not that there is a shortage; the problem is that the government doesn’t know what to do about it,” said Jose Luis Gonzalez, director of the Argentina-China Institute in the Faculty of Business and Law at the University at Buenos Aires.
He says there is still a lack of effective oversight of the import of precious metals.
“If you do not have an adequate inspection mechanism, there are no guarantees that it will be effective,” he said.
Experts say there is no clear mechanism to monitor exports, and that some imports may be illegally diverted.
In January, Argentina announced plans to scrap its last remaining gold mines.
Some analysts say the move is intended to create an alternative source of metals for Argentina, but critics say it will also lead to a sharp increase in theft of the country’s jewelry.
“This move by the government to scrap the last remaining mines of gold in Argentina is not only irresponsible, but also potentially dangerous for Argentina,” said Daniel Garcia, a professor of business law at the Universidad de Chile.
“There is no doubt that the gold mined in Argentina will be exported elsewhere.
“So it is important that Argentina has the tools to protect its gold, which are available to it.” “
But it is also important to remember that there are very few places that can provide a safe environment for the production of gold and diamonds,” he added.
“So it is important that Argentina has the tools to protect its gold, which are available to it.”
Experts say many of the Argentinas exports go to China, where the government is trying to attract a more sophisticated economy.
Last year, the Chinese government opened the countrys first gold mine in Argentina.
And China has been the country that has exported the most gold, with 1.8 million tonnes in 2015.
But some Argentines worry that China will eventually decide to close its mines.
“We can’t let them keep producing these precious metals and we need to make sure that they are protected and they don’t go out of production,” said Carlos Gonzalez, a local jewelry designer.
“I don’t want to see any more of the precious metals being produced in Argentina.”
But critics warn that it could also make Argentina vulnerable to a financial crisis, as the country could lose money on its imports.
“They are trying to make money off of the jewelry and this is going to make the situation worse for Argentina.
They have the power of the state,” said Garcia.
“It is a real crisis.
The only way they are going to get out of it is to stop importing and to start importing.”