What makes a Burma ruby so special? What is it that sets the gem apart from rubies mined elsewhere in the world? Its the color- pure and simple and the fact that the region (Burma) has been mined for centuries and in these centuries have changed little in the way of the methods used for mining these stones. This story will lead you into the stone tract of the Mogok and Mong Hsu districts of upper Burma and explain the fascination of the- Burma Ruby.
The most fabled locality for fine rubies is the Mogok district in Upper Myanmar (Burma). The discovery of these mines is steeped in antiquity, the earliest mention being in Burmese legend that mentions a fever stricken valley, inaccessible to humans. That the mine workings are ancient is proven without doubt by the recovery of implements of the Stone and Bronze Ages here. Several kings, governors and private companies have held mining rights from time to time. In all the years till date not much has changed in the mining methods.
Next to red diamonds, rubies are perhaps the most expensive gems in the world (provided the size is over three carats). The most desirable color for ruby is a deep, traffic-signal red. Contrary to popular belief not all Burmese rubies are of this legendary color. Material of an inferior quality is just as likely to be mined in Burma as anywhere else. In the same way good, gem-quality material may be found from any of the other ruby producing localities- Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In effect what has happened is that the name Burma ruby has been applied to almost any ruby of a good color and quality. It does not necessarily mean that the particular stone is in fact a Burmese ruby.
So, if these so-called Burma rubies are in fact just a sobriquet, what are the parameters for judging a good stone? Awareness! This is the keyword. Gemologists the world over have committed reams and reams of paper pertaining to use of terms like Columbian emerald, Kashmir sapphire and Burma ruby. In truth there is very little chance of anybody being able to say where a particular stone has been mined. Unless the stone is submitted for a thorough gemological evaluation by a reputed laboratory there is no way country of origin can be declared using visual clues alone? So, the best bet is to look for a stone you like. It does not matter whether it is a Burmese or a Cambodian stone. If you like it- go for it!