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Gem-related Field
Rubies, emblematic of passion and wealth, have been cherished for centuries. Among the most esteemed are those originating from Mozambique and Myanmar (Burma). This study compares these two varieties, offering insights into their geological formation, color and clarity variations, market dynamics, and the impact of their respective mining regions' socio-political landscapes.
Geographical and Historical Context
Mozambique Rubies
These rubies, discovered in Mozambique's Montepuez region around 2009, have quickly risen to prominence in the gemstone market. Their geological formation in colluvial and alluvial deposits, the result of millennia of natural processes, endows them with unique features. Although Mozambique rubies have only recently surfaced, they have quickly established themselves as formidable competitors to those sourced from more traditional sources.
Geographical and Historical Context
Burmese Rubies
For almost more than 500 years, Myanmar's Mogok Valley has been known for its rubies. This region's rubies are recovered from marble-hosted deposits, contributing to their unique characteristics we will describe later. They have a profound historical and cultural value, having been worn by monarchs and featured in renowned jewelry collections throughout history.
Left: Burmese ruby, Pigeon Blood color (deep red color) - Right: Mozambique Unheated set, Pigeon Blood (Purple underdone)
Physical Characteristics
Color Variations
Mozambique rubies exhibit a range of red hues, often tinged with purple or pink. This variation offers both aesthetic diversity and a spectrum of price points. In contrast, Burmese rubies are famed for their 'pigeon's blood' red, a deep, saturated red with a subtle blue undertone, considered the epitome of ruby coloration.
Physical Characteristics
Clarity and Inclusions
Mozambique rubies typically possess good clarity, although natural inclusions are common. These inclusions can sometimes create desirable effects, such as asterism. Burmese rubies often exhibit high clarity, but the presence of silk (fine needle-like inclusions) is typical and can enhance the gem's appearance and value.
Physical Characteristics
Clarity and Inclusions
The discovery of Mozambique rubies has introduced a variety of sizes to the market, including larger stones which are rare elsewhere. On the other hand, large, high-quality Burmese rubies are exceedingly rare, making them highly prized and valuable.
Left: Heated Burmese Ruby (2.05 cts) - Right: Heated Mozambique Ruby (6.04 cts)
Market Dynamics and Value
Pricing and Accessibility
Mozambique rubies offer a broad price range, making them accessible to a wider audience. High-quality specimens can command high prices but are generally more affordable than their Burmese counterparts. Burmese rubies, known for their rarity and color, are among the most expensive in the colored gemstone market, especially when untreated and of high quality.
Burmese Rubies
Carat Size and Prices
Under 1 Carat: Prices for Burmese rubies under 1 carat can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per carat for fine quality stones. Exceptional pieces, particularly those with deep 'pigeon's blood' red color, may command higher prices.

1 to 3 Carats: Prices typically increase substantially in this range, especially for high-quality stones. Prices can range from $3,000 to $10,000 per carat. Exceptional stones with outstanding color and clarity may fetch upwards of $15,000 per carat or more.

Above 3 Carats: High-quality Burmese rubies over 3 carats are rare and can command prices of $10,000 to $30,000 per carat. Exceptionally fine rubies, particularly those over 5 carats with the coveted 'pigeon's blood' color, can exceed $50,000 per carat and even reach several hundred thousand dollars per carat in some cases.
Mozambique Rubies
Carat Size and Prices
Under 1 Carat: Mozambique rubies in this size typically range from $200 to $1,000 per carat, depending on quality. The price is generally lower than Burmese rubies due to factors like color intensity and market perception.

1 to 3 Carats: For this size range, prices can range from $500 to $5,000 per carat. High-quality stones with vibrant color and good clarity can command prices at the higher end of this range.

Above 3 Carats: Larger Mozambique rubies can be priced anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 per carat or more for top-quality specimens. Exceptional pieces, especially those with outstanding color and clarity, can fetch higher prices, though they typically remain less expensive than their Burmese counterparts.
All the rubies shown here are from Mozambique. The presence of treatments (like heat treatment) can significantly affect the price. Natural, untreated stones usually command a premium. Additionally, the origin is an important factor, with Burmese rubies generally being more valued due to their historical significance.
Unique Features and Ethical Considerations
Treatment and Enhancement
Many Mozambique rubies undergo heat treatment to enhance color and clarity, a standard practice in the industry as long as it is disclosed. The highest value among Burmese rubies is given to natural, untreated stones, with the presence of natural silk often being a desirable feature.
Ethical and Political Aspects
The mining conditions in Mozambique have raised ethical concerns, although efforts are being made to improve standards. In contrast, the political situation in Myanmar has led to embargoes and ethical dilemmas surrounding Burmese ruby mining, impacting their availability and perception in the global market.
Two unheated rubies from Mozambique (1.16 cts + 4.03 cts)
How to Differentiate Burmese and Mozambique Rubies?
Short Guide For Gemologists Without The Aid Of Lab Equipment
As a gemologist aiming to differentiate between Mozambique and Burmese rubies without the aid of laboratory equipment, there are several observational techniques and features to consider. This task is inherently challenging due to the similarities in the physical characteristics of these gemstones. However, a careful analysis focused on specific aspects can provide valuable insights into their origin.

The first aspect to consider is the color of the ruby. Burmese rubies are famous for their "pigeon's blood" red, a deep and vivid red with a slight bluish hue. This distinctive color is a hallmark of Burmese rubies and sets them apart from others. In contrast, while displaying vibrant reds, Mozambique rubies often have a wider range of hues, typically with more noticeable purple or pink undertones. By examining the stone under different lighting conditions, one can assess these subtle color differences.

Inclusions within the rubies are another critical aspect. Although challenging without a microscope, a jeweler's loupe can aid in examining the inclusions present in the stone. Burmese rubies often contain characteristic silk (fine, needle-like inclusions) and may exhibit inclusions such as calcite, dolomite, or feldspar. Mozambique rubies, on the other hand, might have different inclusion patterns, including two-phase inclusions (liquid and gas bubbles) or iron-related inclusions, which are typically less common in Burmese rubies.
Fluorescence and Cuts
Fluorescence is an additional feature that can provide clues. Burmese rubies generally show strong red fluorescence under long-wave ultraviolet light due to their high chromium content. Due to variations in their trace elements, Mozambique rubies may exhibit less pronounced fluorescence. This test requires a UV light source (which is relatively simple compared to other gemological instruments).

Though not a definitive indicator, the ruby's cut and shape can sometimes offer hints about its origin. Traditionally, Burmese rubies might be found in older cutting styles, reflecting their long-standing presence in the gem market. In contrast, being a newer discovery, Mozambique rubies may more frequently feature modern cuts. However, this observation should be taken with caution, as it is not a reliable method of differentiation.

Considering the size and quality in relation to the ruby's origin can also be informative. Large, high-quality rubies are exceedingly rare in Burmese deposits. Therefore, a large, high-quality stone might suggest a non-Burmese origin. However, this is not a conclusive indicator, as exceptional Burmese rubies of significant size do exist. It will all depend on the trust you have built with the seller.

Could you guess the origin of these three rubies?

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Benjamin Poudevigne
Social Media Manager at GemMatrix
With over ten years of marketing experience, I finally decided to settle down in Bangkok to work in an area that I have always been interested in: the gemstones industry. I'm still learning how the market works on a daily basis, and I enjoy sharing my experience with those who are interested in learning more about gems in general.