Advice on a Gem Trip to Burma

Dear Orchidians

Planning to explore the Burma (Myamar) Gem Market.

Any advice, suggestion, etc. from you sages.

I will be glad to hear from you offlist also or you can use.
8005747436 (kris gem) to call me.

Thanks to one and all in advance


The military junta that controls Burma is one of the most brutal and
repressive on the earth. The democratically elected president and
Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Kyii, has been under arrest
since her election in 1990 and has seen thousands of her supporters
arrested, beaten, murdered, raped, and tortured by the military
rulers, yet she has never responded with hatred and violence in kind.
She has continued to ask for a peaceful dialogue. The UN and the
European Union have condemned Myanmar and have threatened to impose
further economic sanctions. The US has banned the import of Myanmar
products since 2003. More and more jewelers, including Tiffany & Co.,
are refusing to buy or sell gems originating from Myanmar.

The only weapons that the Burmese people have in their non-violent
struggle against this violent regime is the quiet determination of
Suu Kyii, known as “The Lady,” and the sanction imposed by free
nations that focus the world’s attention on their struggle. By not
buying gems from Myanmar, we are giving them hope.

My advise is to NOT go to Burma to buy gems. Go to tell the people

there that we have not forgotten them.

Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107


Can’t agree with you on Burma. I was there less than three months ago
(see my 2005 Burma Journal
For years the gem trade has been an underground lifeline to the small
miners of Mogok. Although the government does control a portion of
the gem trade, the larger portion is in the hands of small mom and
pop mining operations. I have visited the mines and done business
with several of these small miners.

Unlike the diamond industry that uses large amounts of capital and
exploits large scale deposits, most of the mining in and around Mogok
is too small to be the concern of the military. A lot of these goods
are sumuggled out of Burma and the military doesn’t make a cent.

The junta doesn’t give a damn about economic losses to the people of
the country, they are doing just fine, thank you.

Recently, the state department has reversed its ban on Burma
products that are exported as raw materials and finished in third
countries such as Thailand.


lots of rubies and fine sapphires in sri lanka with a lot less blood
on them than in burma

the rubies aren’t burma color but it’s a relatively civilized market
and there are lots of sapphires, both treated and untreated

i’ve never been to burma but i’ve heard only bad things about doing
business there.

good luck

If any Orchidians are coming to Sri lanka to buy gems Please contact
me. the Resident Orchidian in Sri Lanka.

Ahmed shareek
Crescent Gems

I was also in Burma recently and I would suggest you purchase

It takes years to establish a trusting relationships with miners.
The closer you get to a mine the more likely you’re to offered
fraudelent goods. I saw many synthetics and even the best of dealers
can be fooled especially since it’s difficult to find access to a

Lastly, the prices can be much higher. It’s like trying to buy
oranges in Florida, emeralds in Colombia or sapphire in Kashmir. For
a number of reasons, you are more likely to find a better bargain
outside of the main source.

So visit for the people the food and the fun. The rocks are a bonus.

Ed Cleveland

First of all, just for the record, the country is now called
Myanmar. AS I understand it, the name Burma was actually given to
them by the British when they colonized. Myanmar was the original
name and with independence they decided to change back. It’s sort of
like Peking and Beijing. The same thing is true with the Myanmar
capital it’s gone back to Yangon from Rangoon.

Anyway, as far as gem buying. I was there last winter in Yangon and
also in Mandalay and the outskirts. It’s a beautiful country and
they are very nice people. I preferred Mandalay. As to gem buying,
market prices are pretty much set by the government and a very
repressive government it is They take a cut of everything so prices
are not nearly as cheap as you might expect. Buyer beware is also
even more true than in other places because they’ll try anything. I
went to the jade market in Mandalay looking for rough. Didn’t like
what I saw there. The Chinese apparently get most all of the good

On the other hand, you can find things you’re unlikely to find in
other places. Corundums of all shapes sizes and colors are
available. There’s nice spinel. They’ve got their own brand of lapis
and some interesting beryl in the aqua color range. There’s also a
lot of off the wall stuff, rare.

There seem to be some deals to be found if you know about odd things
they don’t know about. So gemological knowledge and some equipment
is extremely useful. As to getting stuff out? I believe it’s still
illegal to bring anything back into this country and hard to get
stuff out of there as I understand it. But I haven’t been keeping up
with the laws on that.

Incidentally, I did end up getting some very nice jadeite rough that
is Burmese, but I didn’t buy it in Myanmar.

Derek Levin

Thought I’d forward this news release on the sanctions issue:

  (Washington, DC) Days before US Deputy Secretary of State
  Robert Zoellick heads to Southeast Asia to attend a major
  regional summit, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved the
  extension of economic sanctions against the military regime
  that rules the Southeast Asian country of Burma. In the midst
  of a busy legislative session, US Senators voted 97-1 in
  support of Senate Joint Resolution 18, a renewal of a total ban
  on imports from Burma. The Senate action followed a similarly
  favorable 423-2 vote by the House of Representatives on June
  21st. US President George W. Bush is expected to sign the
  renewal into law soon. 

  "We thank and commend the US Congress for this firm and
  forward-looking policy," said Aung Din, a Burmese former
  political prisoner and torture survivor who serves as policy
  director at US Campaign for Burma. "Burma is not only an
  embarrassment to the countries of Southeast Asia, it is
  increasingly a threat to regional security. It is time for the
  United Nations Security Council to act". 

  The timing of the vote and expected endorsement from President
  Bush coincides with a major trip by US Deputy Secretary of
  State Robert Zoellick, who will travel to Southeast Asia next
  week to participate in the region's biggest annual summit, the
  Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional
  Forum.The United States and the European Union have threatened
  to boycott the summit the following year in 2006 if Burma's
  military regime assumes the leadership of the organization as
  scheduled. Several Southeast Asian Nations, including Malaysia,
  Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines have expressed their
  discomfort with the possibility of a rogue nation such as Burma
  chairing the region's most important body. 

  The original Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act 2003 was
  adopted on July 28, 2003 by both chambers of US Congress and
  signed byPresident Bush after Burma's military regime refused
  to participate in talks with Burma's democracy movement
  facilitated by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Instead of
  working with Annan's office to help bring about change, the
  regime locked up Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi
  and killed dozens of her supporters in a nighttime massacre
  near in Depayin, Burma. Suu Kyi's political party, the National
  League for Democracy, won Burma's last democratic election in a
  landslide, but the ruling generals refused to recognize the

  Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's democracy movement maintain a
  policy of support for international sanctions. One month ago,
  14 Nobel Peace Prize recipients, including Archbishop Desmond
  Tutu, issued a public call for increased international
  sanctions on Burma's military regime. 

  Burma's regime has recruited up to 70,000 child soldiers (far
  more than any other country in the world), instituted a
  nationwide system of modern-day slavery, driven out hundreds of
  thousands of people from their native lands, used rape as
  weapon of war against ethnic minorities, and imprisoned over
  1,000 political activists. 

  After Aung San Suu Kyi's 60th birthday on June 19th of this
  year, the United States raised the issue of Burma among members
  of the UN Security Council. Six countries spoke in favor of
  increased international action. 

Several people on this list have recently visited Burma/Myanmar and
can attest to the conditions there and the state of the gem trade. I
don’t want to start a political discussing on Orchid, but only wish
to point out that the sanctions are indeed still in place, and that
the world community is calling for a stronger economic boycot of
Burmese goods. The democratically elected president, Aung San Suu
Kii, is also supporting santions. For these reasons, I have
personally decided not to use gems of Burmese origin in my work, and
I inform my customers of this decision. I am joined in this decision
by many others in the trade. Stuller is no longer offering Burmese

Myanmar may be a heavenly place to visit, but for those who live
there it is truly Hell. I pray that things will change there soon.


Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

Dear Orchidians

Sincere Thanks to one and all including Doug Zaruba, Richard Wise
 and Ed for their heartfelt suggestions, guidance, advice etc…

I read all the responses with great interest and has learnt a lot in
the process.

What prompted me to think in that direction was that an unusal high
& serious demand for fine Burmese Ruby, big sizes including star from
our clients.

Don’t know how to handle that.

Anil Gupta