HomeMajor Colored StonesRubies and SapphiresRubies from Myanmar

An approximate ranking of important ruby origins is given below. This applies only for the finest untreated qualities from each source and is but a general approximation. In other words, a top-quality Thai/Cambodian ruby can be worth far more than a poor Mogok stone.


  1. Mogok, Burma
  2. Sri Lanka
  3. Madagascar
  4. Nanyazeik, Burma
  5. Everything else


  • Myanmar (ne Burma) - Worlds finest rubies from Mogok Stone Tract; since at least 1597 A.D. (historical records); perhaps as far back as the Neolithic (stone tools found in the area).  Recent production (beginning ca. 1992) from a new locality, Mong Hsu, belies the superlative "Burma Ruby" moniker.  These are not nearly the quality of Mogok ruby, commonly requiring  heating and filling to yield viable gems.  By far the most definitive work on Burma corundum is that by Hughes, which is now online and makes fascinating reading.   Mogok ruby has the following characteristics:
    • Originate in marble formed by contact(?) or regional(?) metamorphism of impure limestone. Mines are in gem gravel deposits.
    • Inclusions of rutile, calcite, apatite, olivine, sphene, spinel.
    • Renowned for "pigeon blood colour", also for uneven "roiling" of colour.
    • Give off a strong red fluorescence in short and long u.v. light.
    • Most prolific production during the period 1889-1931, when the area was mined on a large scale by Burma Ruby Mines Ltd., a British concern run by an eminent London jeweler, Edwin Streeter.
    • Mining on a small scale by native miners using primitive methods from 1931-1963, except during W.W.II.
    • Private gem mining officially ceased by the socialist governments decree in 1962; mines nationalized in 1963. Mining continues today through government leases to Myanmar nationals.  Some production is sold at government-sponsored auctions in Rangoon, some changes hand privately via smuggling through Thailand.



When we talk ruby, we talk Burma. For connoisseurs, no other will do. In the days of yore, matters were simple. Burma meant Mogok. This storied deposit was known for over 1000 years as the home of the finest ruby on the planet.

While Mogok is the traditional source of the world's finest rubies, good stones are rare even from this fabled area. Pigeon's blood was the term used to describe the finest Mogok stones, but has little meaning today, as so few people have seen this bird's blood.

Mogok-type rubies possess not just red body color, but, by a freak of nature, red fluorescence, too. In addition, the best stones contain tiny amounts of light-scattering rutile silk. It is this combination of features that gives these rubies their incomparable crimson glow. In Mogok rubies, the color often occurs in rich patches and swirls, and color zoning can occasionally be a problem. The shape of Mogok ruby rough generally yields well-proportioned stones.

In addition to faceted stones, the Mogok Stone Tract also produces the world's finest star rubies.

Ruby: Mogok Origin

“At a carat there is a price. At a carat and one half that price doubles. At two carats the price triples…at six carats there is no price.”

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, 1688

In 2005 a world record price for ruby was set when a private client from Asia paid the fabulous price of $2.2 million or $274,6

56 per carat for an 8.01 carat oval ge

m. This bested the previous record of $228,252/ct. set back in 1988 with a 15.97-ct. gemstone. In February 15, 2006Christies St. Moritz shattered that record selling a 8.65 carat cushion shaped ruby to a dealer for the final hammer price of $3.6 million or $425,000 per carat, nearly double the record set just one year before.

What makes Burma ruby so special is a normally invisible quality of ultraviolet fluorescence, rubies from locations in Thailand, which was the ruby standard bearer in the years between the closing of

Burma in 1962 and the discovery of the new Burma ruby deposits at Mong Hsu in the early 90s, have concentrations of iron that quench the gem’s natural fluorescence. In Burma type ruby, found at geologically similar locations in Burma (Mogok) (Namya), Vietnam, Pakistan and Afghanistan, some ultraviolet emissions fall into the visible red (at 692.8 and 694.2 nm). The red body color is supercharged by red fluorescence. Vietnamese gems are particularly strong in this quality.

Some dealers are beginning to discriminate between gems produced in the Mogok Valley and those from other sources. It is sometimes possible, by inclusion study to separate Mogok stones from other Burma-type rubies from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of Burma (Namya and Mong Hsu). Taking the cue from Emerald, ruby from the original source are referred to as old mine.


Chemistry and Crystallography 

Chemical Composition

Aluminum oxide with chromium and the chemical formula is Al2O3,Cr.


All shades of red with hue of blue, brown, yellow and orange.


9.0 Mohs

Refractive Index


Specific Gravity

3.96 to 4.01



Solid State

Transparent to Opaque

Crystal System







Uneven or conchoidal




Mostly enhanced


Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Australia, USA, India, Nepal and other African countries.


All general gemstone precautions and care.



Certain inclusions form only in specific geologic environments. There are inculculable number of factors that contribute to the variation of inclusions from one gem deposit to another(Gubelin 1999), but are frequently consistent at one particular geographic locality.
"Even gems formed in identical parent rocks e.g. dolomitic marbles at Jagdalek(Afghanistan), Mogok and Mong Hsu(Myanmar), Chumar and Ruyil(Nepal), Hunza Valley(Pakistan), Morogoro(Tanzania) and Luc Yen(Vietnam) manifest specific local differences, by which the gems from these deposits may be ascribed to their particular place of origin. While pargasite may be an inmate of rubies from Mogok and the Hunza Valley, it has not been observed in rubies from other similar sources. Hunza rubies also usually boast margarite mica and pyrite inclusions, whereas calcite, scapolite, sphene, spinel and sometimes pyrite as well, characterise rubies from Mogok. Rubies from Mong Hsu are devoid of this inclusion assembly -  they excel rather in fluorite, which has not been encountered in rubies from any other locality. Rutile - usually with acicular habit and oridented along three directions(forming so-called silk) - is a regular inhabitant of rubies from most of those places... However, it is not merely the presence of a specific, single guest mineral which may indicate a particular mother rock, but more often the internal association of various repeatedly occuring guest minerals is symptomatic of a specific source... The guest mineral assembly such as apatite, rutile, zircon, etc., in sapphires from metamorphic rocks(e.g. from Sri Lanka) is complete different  from that in sapphires from basaltic beds(volcanic origin: Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam) encompassing columbite, plagioclase, uranpyrochlore) On the other hand, allanite, pargasite, plagioclase, tourmaline and zircon specify sapphires of pegmatitic origin in Kashmir. (p. 20-22)

Ruby, Natural, Mogok Myanmar
The combination of calcite- or dolomite- crystals (with their typical lamella cleavage and poly-synthetic twins) with small 'gratings' of rutile needles in swirly surroundings, is the privilege of the sought-after Burma rubies. (Gubelin and Koivula, 1686, p.48)
  • red colour unaffected by different lighting environment
  • almost always contain some silk; short stubby rutile silk needles, often with v-shaped reentrant angles; dense white clouds of exsolved TiO2
  • exsolved acicular particles of unknown nature, not removed by heat
  • polysynthetic twinning common, incorporated with long, thin, acicular, boehmite needles
  • spinel, yellow sphalerite, yellow sphene, green tourmaline and other guest crystals;also, rhombohedron calcite recognised by its cleavage and twin lamellae
  • hexagonal irregular zoning is common; treacle or colour swirls
  • very few or no liquid inclusions, except when heated
  • intense reddish/orange fluorescence in long wave ultraviolet radiation. while chalky bluish/greenish fluorescence in short wave radiation in heated specimens

Möng Hsu

When the Möng Hsu deposit came on stream in 1992–93, it took the ruby world by the storm. Suddenly, we were awash in a sea of red the likes of which had never been seen before. And fine stone it was, too. This was not the garnet-like hue of Thailand, but a rich, fluorescent red.

In 1992, the Möng Hsu (Maing Hsu) deposit in Burma's Shan State began producing good material. This has continued to the present, so much so that close to 90% of the fine cab and facet-grade ruby in the world market is from this deposit. But most cut stones are under two carats.

Möng Hsu material can be extremely fine, but virtually all is heat treated, and most is also flux-healed.

Nanyazeik (Nayazeik)

In the past year or so, rubies have started to come out of Nanyazeik in Burma's Kachin State. I did see one fine purplish red piece from this deposit on my last trip to Burma in June, 2001. Only time will tell whether Nanyazeik has the makings of an important source. Other than ruby, Nanyazeik has produced some super red spinels, equal to anything from Mogok.

The Burmese rubies are traditionally believed to be of the finest quality. These rubies known as ‘Pigeon’s Blood’ have deep intense uniform red color with a slight tinge of blue. The Upper Burma mines produce finest and largest supply of rubies. These mines are functional as early as 15th century. The famous traveler Tavernier had mentioned the Burmese ruby mines in his travelogue. The ruby district of Mogok has a total area of 66 square miles but the area where rubies can be found is even larger. It is the principle district engaged in precious stone trading. The mines are located in the towns of Kathay and kyatpyen.The mother rock on which ruby is found is a white dolomitic granular limestone or marble .The secondary gem-bearing bed consists of brown or yellow clayey or sandy material known as byon in Burmese. This byon lies 15 to 20 feet below the surface with 4 to 5 feet thickness. The sides of the hills have 15 to 20 feet thick byons.These byons also occur in the limestone caves which are full of crevices and cracks. These are spread underground for miles and miles. The Burmese rubies have deep red shade and those which are free from any crack or fault get high prices. The poor quality stones are also sometimes found in some areas. Some precious stones are also reported from the river bed of Nampai valley at Namseka village. The second ruby mines area is Sagyin which is located 21 miles from Mandalay. The crystalline limestone hills dot the landscape of Irrawaddy alluvial plains. The ruby stones occur in the crevices and cracks of these hills and in some places these are filled with brown clayey material which contains many precious stones together. These are separated by traditional method of washing. However the rubies are of inferior quality with a paler shade. Some of the other areas are Nanyetseik which is located between Mogaung and Sanka in the Upper Irrawaddy.

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