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A Brief History Of The Mogok Rubies

The name Ruby is derived from ruber in Latin which means red, in Sanskrit, Ruby is known as ratnaraj, meaning “king of gems”. For centuries, the ruby has been the talisman of power and royalty. During ancient times, when a ruby was rubbed on the skin, it was thought to restore youth and vitality. For thousands of years, rubies have been considered as symbols of love, energy, passion, power and a zest for life. In the first century AD, the Roman scholar Pliny included rubies in his Natural History, describing their hardness and density.


Fittingly, the colour that is most prized in these legendary gemstones is known as “pigeon’s blood” red – an intense, fiery luminescent crimson hue. 95% of rubies possessing this perfect colour description hail from Mogok’s mines in Myanmar (modern day Burma), which have largely been considered to be the premier source of the world’s finest rubies since 600 AD. The most famous of these stones, the 23.10-carat Carmen Lúcia Ruby, is currently housed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The magnificent Sunrise Ruby was sold for a record US$30.3 million in 2015, over US$1 million a carat.


Controlled by the Shan dynasty for centuries, Mogok’s mines were acquired by the King of Burma in 1597. He subsequently decreed that any ruby mined

of a certain size and weight must be given over to the crown. Rather than surrender their finest stones to the King, many miners broke large rubies into smaller gems which could be sold. This practice continued until 1885, when Upper Burma was annexed by Great Britain and control of the ruby mines was taken over by the British. For nearly three centuries, Burma’s largest treasures were broken into pieces, which accounts for the remarkable scarcity of large rubies possessing the coveted “pigeon’s blood” hue.


Myanmar produces more than 80 per cent of the world’s rubies, yet decades of isolation under the former military junta means the industry remains cloaked in mystery…