Burma, whose official name is the Republic of Myanmar, supplies 90% of the world’s rubies. Burmese rubies are renowned for their purity and especially vibrant colors but for years the import of rubies from Burma has been illegal. Many believe these bans will soon be lifted and Burmese rubies will again be allowed into the country.
Photo Courtesy of Gemstonebuzz.com
The ruby could techinically be considered a red sapphire as the gemstones are both gem varieties of the mineral Corundrum and are identical in every way save for color. Experts consider a deep blood red color with a slight hint of blue to be the most desirable color, which is sometimes known as a "Burmese Ruby" or "Pigeon’s Blood Ruby."
Color is the primary distinction of a ruby’s value but other factors such as clarity and inclusions can contribute. Inclusion refers to the trace mineral content in a gemstone, which in rubies can include calcite and yellowish dolomite. Often the inclusions affect the color of a ruby and many inferior stones are heat-treated to remove the trace impurities. For this reason a naturally-occurring, transparent ruby can be remarkably valuable.
There are several mines in Burma where the highest quality rubies are found but the Mogok mines have the deepest red rubies available, as well as displaying well-formed rutile needles. Rutile is the mineral inclusion of titanium dioxide and comes from the latin word for red; rutile needles are responsible for asterism.
Photo courtesy of http://research.amnh.org
Asterism in a gemstone occurs when rutile needles are formed in such a way to appear as the rays of star. Star rubies are incerdibly rare because a good example requires both the rutilism, or silk as it is known, to occur in distinct lines to appear as a star and good color to form a desirable gemstone.
A star ruby. Photo courtesy of modernjewelery.com
Burmese rubies have long been known throughout the world as the highest quality examples of the gemstones. Pre-ban Burmese rubies are highly sought after and are still legal for sale but many jewelers have begun developing buyer’s shops in the country in anticipation of the ban being lifted soon.
Matthew H for Raymond Lee Jewelers, South Florida’s premiere source for buying and selling luxury watches and designer jewelry.