Giant Jade Stone Unearthed in Myanmar

The state of Kachin produces some of the best jade in the world

A giant jade stone weighing 175 tonnes has been uncovered by miners in Myanmar. The stone is 4.3m (14ft) high and 5.8m (19ft) long, and is reportedly worth an estimated $170m. It was found in a mine in the jade-producing Kachin state, in the north of the country.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is the source of nearly all of the world's finest jadeite. The jade industry is responsible for nearly half of the country's GDP. 
One of the biggest markets for jade is in neighboring China, where it is known as the "stone of heaven".

Burmese Ruby, Jade Ban Officially Ended

The Jubilee Ruby: a 15.99-karat Burmese ruby and diamond ring by Verdura. Courtesy of Christie’s

Reported by JCK Magazine.


The 8-year-old sanctions on Burmese ruby and jade coming into the United States were officially lifted by an executive order dated Oct. 7.

President Obama signaled his intention to lift the ban last month.

The timing was auspicious—leaders of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America were on a trade mission to Myanmar (formerly Burma) when the sanctions were lifted.

“We have had an amazing reaction from the top down,” says Jeffrey Bilgore, AGTA president. “This is a country coming out of the darkness of 50 years of military rule and eager to participate in the new order. We have met everyone from the smallest artisanal miner to the members of parliament. And they are really excited to be part of the gem community. It’s a big relief and a long time coming.”

Jewelers and their customers will benefit from greater access to choice gems, he says.

“Customers are still asking for Burma rubies,” Bilgore says. “After eight years of no longer being able to import, it will have an impact.”

The leaders acknowledged that the Burmese jade sector remains problematic, and they were mostly focused on reestablishing ties with the gem business. (In addition to rubies, Myanmar produces sapphires, topaz, and other gems.)

“The gem sector has always operated in a very different way than the jade sector,” Bilgore says. “There is still an awful lot of work to do there. The gemstone sector can be a model to the jade sector in helping to modify their practices.”

Another mission participant, AGTA CEO Doug Hucker, says that local miners were eager to do business responsibly.

“We have made recommendations to them,” he says. “Across the board they have been receptive. Everyone wants to do business in the right way. It’s ingrained in their philosophy, their religion.”

Jewelers of America president and CEO David Bonaparte, also on the mission, says that his members were anxious to “get the ball rolling” and “reintroduce gems from Burma in their stores.”

Bilgore says that the local reaction to the sanctions’ lifting was ecstatic.

“This is the proudest gem valley in the world,” he says. “It goes back 1,000 years. America is the largest gem-consuming market in the world and [the country hasn’t] been able to sell us rubies for eight years. They are happy to come out from the darkness, come out from the cloud.”

Also on the trade mission: James Shigley from the Gemological Institute of America; Timothy Haake of Haake Fetzer, senior counsel to JA; and a representative of the Inle Advisory Group, a Myanmar-centric business consulting firm.

The ban on the importation of rubies and jade into the United States came into effect with the passage of the JADE Act in 2008. When that law expired in 2013, President Obama issued an executive order that year keeping the ruby and jade ban in place.

The Graff Ruby Lead the Sotheby's Geneva Sale

The cushion-shaped ruby weighing 8.62 carats, set between triangular diamond shoulders within a mount decorated throughout with brilliant-cut diamonds,   size 59, signed Graff, together with an alternative ring mount, Graff. Photo Courtesy of Sothebys

The cushion-shaped ruby weighing 8.62 carats, set between triangular diamond shoulders within a mount decorated throughout with brilliant-cut diamonds, size 59, signed Graff, together with an alternative ring mount, Graff. Photo Courtesy of Sothebys

The November 12th, 2014 Sotheby's Geneva auction was lead by a truly magnificent pigeon-blood colored ruby known as the "Graff Ruby".  The ring was originally sold at auction nine years ago and was purchased by noted jeweller Laurence Graff for a record breaking price. He later named the ruby "The Graff Ruby". 
In Geneva the ring again fetched a record breaking amount (selling for $8,600,410). The ring was part of the Collection of Dimitri Mavrommatis (16 pieces) which also included a rare 27.54 carat step-cut Kashmir sapphire, as well as several pieces by contemporary jewelers, Graff and JAR (who was represented by a pair of superb sapphire, ruby and diamond earrings).

The step-cut sapphire weighing 27.54 carats, set between pear-shaped diamond shoulders  , size 53, together with an alternative ring mount, Graff. Photo Courtesy of Sothebys

The step-cut sapphire weighing 27.54 carats, set between pear-shaped diamond shoulders, size 53, together with an alternative ring mount, Graff. Photo Courtesy of Sothebys

The "Graff" Ruby information:
The piece was accompanied by Gübelin report stating that the ruby is of Burmese origin, with no indications of heating. The SSEF report together with a letter stating:
"The Graff Ruby...The described gemstones exhibits an impressive weight and purity, combined with a very pleasant shape and cutting style. The faint inclusions found by microscopic inspection represent the hallmarks of the reputed deposit of Mogok in Burma (Myanmar). The stone has been spared to exposure of thermal treatment and its clarity and colour are natural. Its vivid red, poetically referred to as 'pigeon blood' is due to a combination of well balanced trace elements in the stone, typical and characteristic for rubies of the Mogok gemstone tract. Natural Mogok rubies from this size, colour and clarity represent a great rarity and the Graff ruby with its combination of outstanding characteristics is a very exceptional gemstone."