The Reintroduction of Burmese Gemstones

Marissa HollandGlittery, glamorous, and gorgeous. Myanmar, formerly Burma, has the world’s most beautiful, well-known rubies and jade. Its breathtaking rubies have strong fluorescence, clarity, hue, and a rich pigeon blood color. The unparalleled beauty makes them one of the most sought-after and expensive gems per carat in the world.1 The country is also known as one of the largest sources of fine jade.

For most Americans, these exquisite gems have been out of reach. The U.S. imposed a ban on importing Burmese jade and rubies as part of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008.2 After the country took strides to become more democratic, conversation about ending the ban began. On October 7, 2016, an executive order was signed, lifting the ban on the U.S. importation of Burmese jade and rubies. What does this mean for American ruby and jade enthusiasts, you may ask?

ruby jewelryDoug Hucker, CEO and President of the American Gem Trade Association, told the National Jeweler that it is not likely that the lift of the ban will result in an immediate influx of Burmese rubies into the marketplace. He explained how the gem industry is a relationship business and those old relationships need to be reestablished. According to the article, trade organizations within the jewelry community will start focusing on government recommendations in order to establish a supply chain.

When the relationship is restored, Americans will have access to the finest, most expensive, and exclusive rubies in the world. The top five most expensive rubies sold at auction, are all Burmese:

  1. The Sunrise Ruby - 25.59-carat Mogok Burmese Ruby, $30,335,698
  2. The Graff Ruby – 8.62-carat Mogok Burmese Ruby and Diamond Ring, $8,600,410
  3. 10.10-carat Mogok Burmese Ruby and Diamond Brooch, by Cartier, $8,428,127
  4. 29.62-carat Mogok Burmese Ruby and Diamond Ring, mounted by Cartier, $7,379,953
  5. The Patino Ruby – 32.08-carat Mogok Burmese Ruby and Diamond Ring, by Chaumet, $6,736,750

It is still unclear what the impact will be for future auction prices of these gorgeous and glamorous Burmese gemstones. It is clear that they will become a more accessible, treasured, and exclusive addition to the collections of our high-net-worth clientele.

Marissa Holland, AJP (GIA), is a portfolio underwriter for Chubb Personal Risk Services.


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