Myanmar is most well known for the rubies, red variant of corundum family of gemstones (same as sapphires). Traditionally Myanmar rubies have been mined from Mogok area close to Mandalay, but new mines have been opened in Moog Hsu in Shan State and a newly discovered ruby field at Nam Yar in Kachin State.
Myanmar rubies are available in range of cuts and shapes, untreated hues from strong pinks to reds. The most coveted is a violetish red color dubbed pigeon’s blood.
The best rubies are cut in faceted styles and command high prices already from 0.5ct size. A beautiful, but more affordable alternative is a cabochon cut ruby, slightly opaque, slightly translucent.
There is also something called Star-Ruby. This is a cabochon cut ruby. The “Star” is a light reflecting or shimmering on top of the gem. The light reflection is a result of optical phenomenon called “Asterism” which is caused by needle type inclusions in the gemstone. A perfect Star-Ruby would be centered and have six even, clear rays, when viewed from the top. Perfect Star-Rubies are rare.
Elizabeth Taylor owned some famous Myanmar rubies: Cartier Ruby Suite (gift by Mike Todd in 1957) and Van Cleef & Arpels 8ct Ruby ring (gift by Richard Burton in 1968)
Ruby is believed to have many healing properties. It is often associated with love and said to trigger the sensual pleasures of life, stir the blood and stimulate the heart.
Ruby hardness (resistance to scratches) is 9 (max 10) while toughness (resistance to chips, breakage etc.) is good, making it an excellent gemstone to wear in jewelry.
Ruby is the birthstone for July.