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Mogok, the ruby valley in Burma

Mogok, the ruby landThe valley of rubies, MôgokI’ve been travelling to Upper Burma, in Mogok , for over 20 years. In the very beginning the visas were few and valid for a short time, only seven days.
 
Then I received a special permission to go there when the Valley of Mogok was closed to tourists. Nowadays it is easier but under strict control of the authorities of Myanmar.
 
 

ruby deposit within the « bayon »ruby deposit within the marble I’ve been able to follow the life and evolution of this remote and wild country where are mined ones of the finest gems in the world: the « pigeon's blood » rubies. And rubies from Mogok are really the finest in the world.

Since Joseph Kessel and his book "La Vallée des Rubis", Mogok has changed very little. Even today this valley is far away from the modern world -some say it is protected ; the roads are still muddy and communications always so difficult !
 

ruby  crystal from BurmaBurmese star ruby It is the rainy season, it rains every night ... this water is necessary to dig for the precious rubies, sapphires and spinels in this clay called "bayon". The entire population residing in Mogok has this one and only idea on their mind : digging the mud to find the rubies that will make the lucky one rich and famous.

In Mogok, the fever for gemstones is a habit that has been lasting for ages. Everybody in this country bears in mind stories of extraordinary discoveries of rubies. Every morning the treasure hunters leave with the hope that today will be the lucky day they become rich.

Ruby on  a Buddha statue  in Mogok region

jeweller’s workshop in BurmaThe Pagoda in Mogok contains the evidence of these discoveries : the base of the representations of Buddha is inlaid with beautiful rubies offered as a tribute to his kindness.

Today the price of gemstones in Mogok is experiencing a sudden rise. Chinese buyers are largely responsible for this, since they buy all the stones at top price, including those with little market value.

I think what has changed most in Mogok are the buyers of gemstones themselves, since the Burmese are still working with the same methods and their eyes still shine with the hope of a miraculous discovery.