President Obama at Vendors Fair in Burma

A hotel employee models ruby earrings for President Barack Obama at a vendors fair at the Kempinski Hotel Nay Pyi Taw, Naypyitaw, Burma, Nov. 13, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The valley of Rubies is set to open after 10 years

Treasuries land with lots of mountains and a cold climate with little rainfall during the year, which is located 200 km North of Mandalay is now opened to foreigners. (Read More…)

The Sunrise Ruby, a rare Burmese ruby weighing 25.59 carats, has sold for a world record $30.42 million.(AFP: Justin Tallis)


Invitation to 54th Myanma Gems Emporium 2017 to be held from 2nd to 11th August 2017


မြန်မာ့ကျောက်မျက် အမေရိကန်နှင့် ဥရောမဈေးကွက် ပို့နိုင်တော့မည်

RFA:Former Myanmar Government Officials Accused in Myanmar Gems Fund Embezzlement Scandal

Members of a Myanmar gem association called on authorities on Thursday to investigate the disappearance of roughly U.S.$ 100 million from its funds, including U.S. $1.1 million allegedly taken by former President Thein Sein, said one of the group’s members.

Kyaw Kyaw Oo, an executive member of the Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association, told reporters at a press conference in Yangon that the trade group’s members demanded that the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government take action against the previous administration for its role in the embezzlement scandal.

The fund, opened under the Ministry of Mines during former President Thein Sein’s government, contained about $104 million accumulated from fees paid by entrepreneurs who worked in the extraction industry, according to a Myanmar Times report.

Win Htein, director general of the Department of Mines and chairman of a tribunal investigating the matter, said the value of the fund has dwindled to less than $8 million, the report said.

“First we heard €7 million [U.S. $7.8 million] from the fund was given to the former president,” Kyaw Kyaw Oo said. “So we raised the issue with retired Colonel Win Htein, who is now presiding over an inquiry committee. He said that only €1 million [U.S. $1.1 million] was given to Thein Sein. It’s on a recording.”

Allegations rejected

Also on Thursday, former Minister of Mines Myint Aung, who was appointed by Thein Sein in September 2012, told a press conference in the administrative capital Naypyidaw that the allegations against the former president were false, and the missing money had been properly spent and accounted for.

“Now we can clear up everything,” he told reporters at the conference. “We didn’t have any corruption here. What we had done was decided by the [government’s] Central Executive Committee, not by a single individual, and it was carried out according to working protocol.”

The money collected from 52 million people was distributed to areas in various states and regions that needed development funds, Myint Aung said.

Of the U.S. $7.8 million in question, Thein Sein placed U.S. $1.1 million in the Ministry of Construction’s bank account, he said. The remainder, which was raised separately from businessmen, also remains in the bank.

Myint Aung said he will seek legal action against those who have accused former government ministers and Thein Sein of embezzling funds from the trade association, state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

Some current Central Executive Committee members and gem association members signed a petition urging Shwe Mann, the ousted former parliamentary speaker under the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), to take up the alleged corruption case in parliament’s Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission.

In February, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi appointed Shwe Mann, whom she considers an ally, to lead the legal advisory panel.

At a press conference addressing the complaint on May 30, Zaw Myint Pe, a member of the parliamentary commission, recommended that an independent body be created to investigate the matter, the Global New Light of Myanmar report said.

Precious stones are weighed at a gem merchant’s house in Mogok, some 125 miles northeast of Mandalay in central Myanmar, May 25, 2015. Credit: NurPhoto

Politically motivated?

In the meantime, the complaint and embezzlement accusations have been submitted to President Htin Kyaw, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bureau of Special Investigation, Ministry of Mines, Mining and Resource Affairs Committee, and Myanmar’s upper house of parliament, theMyanmar Times report said.

Former information minister Ye Htut, who also served as Thein Sein’s spokesman while he was in office, told reporters at the Naypyidaw press briefing that the trade association’s accusations are politically motivated.

“This is a problem within the jewelry organization where many of the complainers are Central Executive Committee members,” he said.

The association should have first raised the issue of the missing funds at its own meetings, and then filed a complaint with the government if no satisfactory explanation came about, he said.

“The complaint should have gone to administrative authorities of the government led by President Htin Kyaw, the parliamentary committee which oversees mining, or the complaints and appeals committee,” Ye Htut said. “But instead, the [association] sent the complaint to parliament’s special commission led by many ousted USDP leaders.”

Gems lab angles for global recognition


A PRIVATELY owned gems laboratory equipped with the latest technology opened its doors yesterday, but, it will take time for the industry to receive international recognition, insiders say.

Myanmar, Gemological Laboratory will be able to provide a range of reports at a cost of K15,000 to K-150,000 to identify natural or synthetic stones, including treatment and geographic origin, according to its founder U Wai La Win.

“If we can make hundreds or thou- sands of reports matching [the quality of reports by] internationally recognised labs, with local coordination, it will be quicker to get the reputation of local labs recognised in. foreign couniries I ” he said.

U Wai La Win added there are about 10 such labs in the country, but most use somewhat outdated technology compared to his lab.

Leading Myanmar geologist Daw Yin Yin New said she supports the private sector as the government it- self is decentralising.

“By competing with the private sector, processes on the government side become more competitive and qualified. There should be no more monopolising by the government, I think,” she said.

Government gems experts should also work closely with their private i sector counterparts in efforts to re- ceive international recognition- Cur- rently, local stones often must be certified in foreign countries, but this business could be completed locally, she said.

“The government needs to liberalise and decentralise the sector by handing over mining processes to the private sector and simply collecting Lax from them, like Indonesia- This avoids conflict. of interest, though does not fully control all the country’s resources from leaving..” she said. Gems dealers say they welcome efforts to bring international-quality gems appraisal to Yangon.

U Thaung Tun, owner of Yadana Theingi Gems and Jewellery, said when local gems are resold at inter- national exhibitions, they must often be re-appraised to meet their standards.

Gary Nelson, a gems businessper¬son, said that while some of the laboratories here may not be glob¬ally recognised, they have a lot of ex¬perience and understand Myanmar gemstones.

However, laboratories bring a level of objectivity to gem appraisals. They have necessary equipment and can tell the characteristics of stones and how they stack up against inter¬national gems.

“They can identify stones very eas¬ily and very correctly,” he said.

Part of the problem for local gems laboratories is the world was in the dark for so long about the industry in Myanmar, and it was also difficult for Myanmar people to take in interna¬tional best practices.

Mr Nelson said the situation was different for U Wai La Win, as he studied and worked overseas for the Gemological Institute of Amer¬ica, and is bringing that experience back to Myanmar. In the past, most Myanmar labs catered to the local community.

Ideally, locally valued gems with a proper certificate should be accepted internationally, which will help local traders have the confidence to go places like New York or London and present the stone, he said.

Queen Elizabeth’s Burmese Ruby Tiara

Burmese Ruby Tiara was ordered to be made by The Queen herself in 1973 to include rubies gifted to her on her marriage from the people of Burma.

The Burmese Ruby Tiara is a unique and fascinating piece of jewelry in Queen Elizabeth II's personal collection. The tiara was made by Garrard in 1973, using 96 rubies that were a wedding gift from the people of Burma. The Burmese people believe that rubies help protect the wearer from the 96 diseases that can afflict the human body, and they wanted to ensure that Elizabeth remained healthy.

The tiara is not without controversy, however. It was created using stones from another tiara that had been dismantled - the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, a diamond floral tiara that the queen received as a wedding gift. The Nizam was an Indian monarch who instructed Cartier to let the princess choose whatever she wanted from their collection for her gift. Elizabeth chose a floral tiara and necklace that had been made in the 1930s, but in the early 1970s, she had the tiara dismantled and the diamonds were used to make the Burmese Ruby Tiara.

The reason for the creation of a new ruby tiara is also interesting. When Elizabeth succeeded to the throne in 1953, she should have taken possession of all of the jewels designated as "heirlooms of the crown" by previous monarchs and their spouses. This collection includes the Oriental Circlet, which was made for Queen Victoria and then reset with rubies by Queen Alexandra. However, the circlet was one of the favorite tiaras of Elizabeth's mother, and rather than taking it from her, Elizabeth decided to let her keep it and use other jewels instead.

The Burmese Ruby Tiara is a beautiful and meaningful piece of jewelry with a rich history. It is a testament to Queen Elizabeth's personal style and her connection to the people of Burma. It is also a reminder of the complex history and traditions behind royal jewelry.

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