The most famous source of fine rubies is Burma, now called Myanmar. The ruby mines of Myanmar are older than history: stone age and bronze age mining tools have been found in the mining area of Mogok.
Rubies from the legendary mines in Mogok often have a pure red color, which is often described as "pigeon's-blood" although that term is more fanciful than an actual practical standard in the trade today.
Burma also produces intense pinkish-red rubies, which are also vivid and extremely beautiful.
Many of the rubies from Burma have a strong red fluorescence when exposed to ultraviolet rays like those of sunlight, which adds on extra color.
A relatively new and important mining area in Burma is Mong Hsu area. This rich ruby deposit produces commercial quantities of commercial quality ruby, but also significant quantities of fine quality, particularly in sizes up to a carat.
Burma ruby is now more readily available than Thai (or Siam) ruby. Most Mong Hsu ruby is cut and marketed in Thailand.
Fine rubies are also found in Thailand. They tend to have a darker red tone: a real red, tending toward burgundy and brown rather than toward pink, as Burma rubies do. But Thai rubies can also have a rich vivid red that rivals the Burmese in intensity.
Thailand is the world's most important ruby trading center. Perhaps 90 percent of the world's ruby goes through Thailand at some point in the trading cycle. The largest ruby cutting factories are in the Chanthaburi area of Thailand.
In 1992, a new ruby mine was discovered in Vietnam and produces rubies which are very similar to rubies from Burma. Some of these Vietnamese rubies have been praised by experts as being virtually indistinguishable from top quality Burmese stones. In fact, the geology of the new mine may be a continuation of the same formation that produced the Burma deposits.
Recently, a new and large deposit has been found in south Madagascar in the Tulear district. This mine produces in significant quantities a light to medium-dark pink material. Red material has been found in the Fionarangsoa area.
Another source in Andilamena, North East of Antananarivo is producing orange to brown-red material, some very similar to Thai rubies. Many stones from this mine are found on Chanthaburi market
Sri Lanka stones are often pinkish or violetish in hue and many are pastel in tone. Some, however, resemble the vivid pinkish red hues from Burma.
Rubies from Kenya and Tanzania surprised the world when they were discovered in the sixties because their color rivals the world's best. Unfortunately, most of the ruby production from these countries has many inclusions, tiny flaws which diminish transparency.
Rubies from the African mines are rarely transparent enough to facet. However, color is displayed to full advantage when cut in cabochon style or in beads. Only a few clean stones of top quality have been seen.
Occasionally a few fine top-quality rubies appear on the market from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Pamir Mountains.
Consult list of gems available on the Chanthaburi market...
Consult list of gems available on the Jaipur market...