Myanmar and the famous Burma ruby
The Ruby is a treasured and coveted gem. But not all Rubies are the same. Some of the most striking examples of glistening beauty are found in Myanmar (formerly Burma). To be more precise, they are found in the long forbidden city of Mogok. Not too long ago Mogok was re-opened for foreigners, but many peculiarities due to its turbulent history persist. For example, the so-called Burmese Rubies are banned from being imported into the United States [Edit: At the end of 2016, President Obama lifted the import restrictions on Burmese rubies].
Due to its colorful gemstones, Mogok is also called the “Valley of Rubies”. This particular richness in gemstones and the exceptional quality of these gems make for a volatile history. “For a long time, Burma was in the center of interest of many nations around the world. And maybe, it still is even though the situation relaxed in the last couple of years,” says Stefan Kreis. The Shan dynasty took control of the Mogok area around the end of the 16th century. In the 19th century, the French and the British tried to exert influence in this area. A time when colonial aspirations ran high and extended its influence around the world.
The crucibles of Myanmar
“a window to the creation of … the planet”
The beauty of a Ruby from Burma is tough to surpass. The intense red color also called “Pigeons Blood” is often used as a benchmark. “We like to point out that a gemstone is a reflection of its surroundings. Therefore, it is a window to the creation of this part of the planet,” explains Alexander Kreis. All the ingredients for a ruby to emerge had been present at some point in time. These elements are traceable to the crucibles that cooked minerals such as corundum and chromium in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. Pressures which had been created when continents collided. “It was then India broke off of Africa and collided with Asia. An event to which we owe the Himalaya Mountains,” Alexander Kreis says.
It is by this collision in coincidence with all necessary ingredients available, which created these loved treasures in a small pocket north-east of Mandalay city in Myanmar, close to the Chinese border. Finding a ruby of high-quality is a daunting task. “Not only the minerals had to be available. In order to find a clear gem, it had to be free of interfering minerals. Not an easy task. Just consider the melting pot character of its history,” explains gemologist Vanessa Kreis.