Gemstones

   Burma is renowned for its gemstones, especially "pigeon blood rubies," which for centuries have been mined at Mogok (Mogoke) in what is now Mandalay Division. Before the British colonial period, the mining of rubies at Mogok, Sagyin (near Mandalay), and Nanyarzeik (in Kachin State) was a royal monopoly. Sapphires are also found in these places. Hpakant in Kachin State produces the world's finest jadeite, highly valued in China, and pearls are found in the Mergui Archipelago. Amber, of a fine variety known as "Burmite," has been mined in the Hukawng Valley of Kachin State.
   Under both the Ne Win regime and the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)/State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), gemstones have remained a government monopoly, controlled by the Myanmar Gems Enterprise, which holds annual emporia for international buyers each year in March, an important source of foreign exchange. Like Burma's old kings, the post-1988 military regime believes that the possession of extraordinary gemstones is an auspicious sign, an indicator of legitimacy. In 1990, the SLORC announced that it had successfully recovered a huge, 496carat ruby that had been mined at Mogok; then taken by black market entrepreneurs across the border to Bangkok but recaptured by Military Intelligence agents. The stone was dubbed the "Nawata (SLORC) Ruby" in the state-controlled media. In 1991 a special postage stamp was issued to commemorate it.
   See also Mineral Resources.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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