Burma’s Blood Rubies


Despite Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) democratic progress, there have been reports that perhaps the import sanctions on gemstones would be lifted. Recently, President Barack Obama has extended the ban on Burmese rubies and jade.

While the U.S. government lifted broader sanctions on imports from Myanmar, Obama signed an executive order Wednesday which prohibits the import of “any jadeite or rubies mined or extracted from Burma and any articles of jewelry containing jadeite or rubies mined or extracted from Burma.”

The order became effective on Wednesday, extending the ban that lapsed on July 28. The U.S. Department of the Treasury said it opted to extend the embargo on jewelry specifically “due to continuing concerns, including with respect to labor and human rights in specific sectors,” as the sale of gemstones benefits the country’s ruling military junta.

The United States first banned the import of rubies and jade from Myanmar in 2003, it was a ban that definitely caught the attention of the jewelry industry. Much like emeralds from Colombia, rubies from this country, known in the trade as “Burmese rubies,” are considered the world’s best rubies and are prized for their color, which is often described as “pigeon-blood red.” They comprise an estimated 90 percent of the world’s rubies.

The ruby and jade restrictions were tightened under President George W. Bush in 2008 when he signed the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 into law. The JADE Act closed a federal loophole in the law by also banning gemstones mined in Myanmar but processed or treated in other countries, such as Thailand.

This is the second time Obama has opted to extend the ban; he first renewed the sanctions against Myanmar in 2009. The ban does not prevent U.S. sales of Burmese jadeite or rubies that were in the country prior to 2008 and it does not extend to exports of Burmese rubies or jadeite from the U.S.

It also does not apply to stones that were in the country and then exported, including for personal use, so long as they are re-imported by the same person who can prove they left with it and the stone hasn’t been improved in condition or value outside the U.S.


As always, Live, Life, Lamour,


Gemfields Emerald Trading Blocked

Recently its been reported that the government of Zambia has barred mining company Gemfields Plc from exporting emeralds for its upcoming sale to Singapore, which is scheduled for June 10 to 14. According to the report, the country’s Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Yamfwa Mukanga told Bloomberg by phone on June 1 that selling gemstones outside of Zambia is not permitted and that the government had blocked Gemfields from exporting emeralds last week.

As Per a previously reached agreement with the government, Gemfields already had agreed to hold its April auction in the Zambian capital of Lusaka but planned on holding the June sale in Singapore. As of now the fate of that auction remained unclear as of Wednesday afternoon.

Currently Gemfields owns a 75 percent stake in Zambia’s Kagem Emerald Mine, which accounts for a bulk of the company’s production, the government holds the remaining 25 percent. Gemfields also has a 50 percent interest in the Kariba amethyst mine in Zambia, with the other half belonging to the government, and mines rubies in Mozambique.

Since 2009, all 11 of Kagem’s auctions have taken place outside of Zambia, in India and Singapore, generating a total of $160 million. The Zambian government see’s this as revenue that is not being generated from within the country, thus eventually having a spill over affect which would also boost its economy through tourism and other means.

Gemfields has said that being forced to sell the emeralds in Zambia only would negatively impact revenues and the overall development of the country’s gemstone sector and place Zambian emeralds at a competitive disadvantage worldwide.



As always Live, Life, Lamour,