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The most famous source of ruby on the planet.

Due to Burma’s recent political instability and trade embargoes placed on the country, some of the world’s finest Sapphires, Rubies and Spinels are not available in some countries such as America.

Although some gems have funded conflict (especially Jade which has been mined under military rule and therefore Burmese Jade should be totally avoided), many of the gems being smuggled out of the country along its border with Thailand are by small artisanal miners, who are selling the gems to support their families during the country’s instability. The world’s finest Rubies come from Burma and with all the country’s recent traumas, with military rule and cyclones, if you can be sure of how the gems were mined and can trust your sources, and you can be sure some of your cash ends up directly in the pocket of those that need it most, then it surely adds even more beauty to the gems you acquire.

Although there are several areas in Burma where gems are unearthed, the most famous gem region in the country and possibly in the entire world is the Mogok Valley.

Known by many in the trade as the “Valley of Rubies”, it is without doubt the most important source of Rubies in the world.

The valley stretches for some twenty miles and at its widest point it exceeds two miles. The Rubies from this area are world renowned for their truly deep, intense red colour. They lack the presence of iron found in Rubies from other locations and this leads to a stronger fluorescence and an extremely vivid saturation.

The next most significant source of fine Rubies in Burma is Mong Hsu; this region lies between the Mogok Valley and the border with Thailand. Rubies discovered here tend to feature a hue that is a purplish red.

Although not as famous as its Rubies, Burma is also the source of some of the world’s finest Sapphires, although unfortunately supply is incredibly limited. These tend to be of a very dark, intense, pure colour and are often referred to as “Royal Blue”. They normally have a hue of around 80 to 85% blue, with the remainder being made up of purple. Compared to Kashmir (the other benchmark for Sapphires), Burmese Sapphires have better transparency. For me the perfect Sapphire would be one that has the openness of colour of a Kashmir, combined with the diaphaneity of a Burmese Sapphire.

Similar to most gem mining communities, there is very little technology or mechanisation involved in the industry, with most of the mining taking place in alluvial deposits, using buckets, spades and sieves.

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A Burmese Ruby.