Hailing from Möng Hsu (pronounced ‘Mong-Shoe’) in Myanmar’s Shan State, our Burmese Ruby wonderfully displays their characteristic, medium pinkish-reds, a translucent brilliance with an eye-clean clarity, a stunning luster, and deft lapidary. Burma (Myanmar since 1989) by reputation and experience continues to unearth some of the world’s finest Rubies. This well-known Ruby source has a classic, undeniable quality pedigree that is incredibly old… mined since the 6th century, Rubies were likely discovered in Burma’s Mogkok region by stone-age humans as early as 10,200 BC!
Named from the Latin ‘ruber’ (red), Ruby’s beautiful hues embody the color of love, passion and romance. Our Burmese Rubies are rich pinkish-crimson (red plus secondary pinks) with a medium saturation and tone, that are the marketplace ideal. Beautiful in both natural and incandescent light, our Burmese Rubies have a glowing brilliance due to their translucent opacity.
As transparency and inclusions affect Ruby’s color and subsequent beauty, Ruby is clarity classified by the Gemological Institute of America as a Type II gemstone (some minor inclusions that may be eye-visible). To maintain beauty and quality, our Burmese Rubies have been faceted by experienced lapidaries with an eye-clean clarity, the highest quality clarity grade for colored gemstones, a superior polish resulting in a beautiful luster, as well as a good shape and overall appearance (outline, profile and proportions). Adroit lapidary negates color unevenness due to zoning (location of color in the crystal versus how the gem is faceted) and excessive windowing (areas of washed out color in a table-up gem, often due to a shallow pavilion).
Rubies are one of the world’s most expensive gems, but like all gems, quality determines price. While color preferences are subjective, the intensity of Ruby’s reds are the primary factor in determining value. The ideal gem displays an intense, rich crimson without being too light or too dark. However, as Rubies come in many different colors and sizes, ultimately personal preference should be the primary concern. In the case of some Rubies, extremely fine silk throughout the gem can actually enhance the value. Many Rubies also display a strong red fluorescence in daylight, adding to the beauty of this gem. ‘Pigeons Blood’ is sometimes used to describe a rare and valuable Ruby color, traditionally associated with Burmese gems.
The birthstone for July, Ruby is a truly mesmerizing gemstone with a rich history, potent symbolism, and a popularity spanning over 2,500 years. The historical mystique and beauty of Rubies is as colorful as the legends and lore that surround this most precious of gems. Mentioned in Sanskrit texts, the ancient Hindus were so enchanted by the color of Rubies that they called them Ratnaraj ‘The King of Gems’. Ruby and Sapphire are color varieties of the mineral Corundum (crystalline aluminum oxide), which derives its name from the Sanskrit word for Rubies and Sapphires, ‘kuruvinda’. Trace amounts of elements such as chromium, iron and titanium as well as color centers are responsible for producing Corundum’s rainbow of colors.
Far scarcer than Diamonds, Rubies are extremely rare, highly coveted and one of the world’s most expensive gemstones. Ruby sources include Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and Vietnam. A major international gemstone hub, Thailand is the middle point for approximately 90 percent of the world’s Rubies as they journey around the globe.
While the original locality for Ruby was most likely Sri Lanka (Ceylon since 1972), the classic source is the Mogok Stone Tract in upper Burma. Not surprisingly, one of the titles of the Kings of Burma was ‘Lord of Rubies’. Some of the world’s best Rubies continue to come from the Mogok Valley of north-central Burma, and Möng Hsu in northeast Burma.
Möng Hsu is 225 kilometers southeast of Mogok. It is located between the Nam Pang and Salween Rivers. It is often closed to foreigners and the road is so bad it takes around 14 hours to travel there from the nearest town of Taunggyi. Typical of many areas in Burma’s Shan States, the population of the Möng Hsu area consist of Shans in the valleys with hill tribes (Palaungs at Möng Hsu) living in the mountains. The Palaungs cultivated tea before the discovery of Ruby. Its gems were first discovered in 1991 when a local resident (who used to be a Ruby miner at Mogok) went bathing in the Nam Nga stream and found red gems between his toes and among the pebbles on the river’s banks; thus began Burma’s most recent Ruby rush as the town’s population quadrupled overnight (from approx. 8,000 to over 30,000 at the peak).
Mining was initially restricted to the valley’s alluvial deposits, but has now also moved to in-situ host rock deposits in the surrounding limestone hills. Burma’s Rubies occur in a crystalline limestone (marble). Millions of years of weathering freed the Rubies, carrying them down from the hills to the valley floors, where they have settled in the bottom of the streams and rivers. It is from these ancient river gravels (locally termed ‘byon’) that the majority of Rubies have been recovered. Some of the traditional mines at Möng Hsu include:
• The pit method for mining the valley alluvial deposits. Small circular pits are termed ‘twin-lon’ (twin), with larger pits known variously as ‘lebin’, ‘kobin’, and ‘inbye’.
• The ‘hmyaw-dwin’ or open-trench method, for excavating hillside deposits.
• Quarrying (tunneling) directly into the host rock.
Durability & Care
One of the world’s hardest gemstones (Mohs’ Hardness: 9), Burmese Ruby is an excellent choice for everyday jewelry. Burmese Ruby should always be stored carefully to avoid scuffs and scratches. Clean with gentle soap and lukewarm water, scrubbing behind the gem with a very soft toothbrush as necessary. After cleaning, pat dry with a soft towel or chamois cloth.