Myanmar
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Burmese Rubies ?

Mogok

Mogok is situated north east of Mandalay, central Myanmar, 6 hours drive on windy roads crossing mountains, creeks and tribal villages.
The first thing you see when entering Mogok is the unique ridges, mountains and Mogok's gem mines.

The roads are still good despite being build by the British over 100 years ago. In the centre of Mogok there is a famous lake which originally was a series of British mines. Mogok is a provincial town which has most services such as banks, stadiums, hospital, hospitals and internet cafes. Those mines have since filed with water to create the lake. Ethnically Mogok is basically Lisu, Shan, Burmese based. The majority of the people are Buddhist and the rest are Christian and Hindu. The people of Mogok are strong Buddhists, very polite, honest and extremely hospitable. For the jewelry trade the locals rely heavily on a person's honesty. Any wayward people are kicked out of the trade for life.

The mines are situated in and around Mogok. The main product of Mogok is ruby which is world famous. The rest are sapphire, spinal, garnet, citron, zircon, emerald and onyx and alexandrite.

Gems are mines generally by hand. Prospectors find a suitable area to mine and they dig down to a layer of stone where they believe the gems are. They extract the stones and pass the stones through wire mesh using water to wash away the dirt. They then can easily see the crystal like gems among the stones. 

The buyers are generally also the cutters who cut the stones at home. In Mogok a gems market operates daily. This market is called 'Htar Pwe' where lots of people are buying and selling stones. The locals believe the best time to buy gems is between 9am to 11am because that is when the natural light is at its best to properly evaluate the gems. The bargaining at this market is also very interesting too. We can often bargain 5 or 10 tens lower than the original asking price.

The ways of life of the stones cutters is also very interesting. Most of the youngsters in Mogok are the best stone cutters or blacksmiths. Although they have to work the whole day cutting and polishing stones they only earn about USD1 per karat.

Mogok blacksmiths are the most well know blacksmiths in the whole of Myanmar.

The patterns and designs are very up to date and the craftsmanship is solid. 

Mogok produces the best rubies Myanmar. Momeik and its surroundings also produce rubies but experts believe the quality of gem is no where near as good as Mogok.

Buyers from Mandalay and Yangon come to Mogok and shop at Htar Pwe gems market and export to abroad especially Thailand and other S.E Asian countries.

The night life of Mogok is very limited. Between 6:30pm and 8:30pm there is a night market where you get a lot of traditional Shan food is sold. After 8:30pm no bars or nightclubs are open. Everything is silent so the workers can get back to the mines early in the morning. 

Tour to Mogok?...
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