AS Myanmar's gem
industry grows and develops, trained gemmologists are
becoming indispensable and the need for gemmology training
Traditionally, gems were graded by experts using the naked
eye, and for years modern grading practices were ridiculed,
said U Tun Shwe, a gem mine owner from Mogok said.
"Formerly in Mogok, buyers who used magnifying glasses or
other modern equipment to examine gemstones were thought to
be fools," U Tun Shwe said.
But as modern equipment found its way to Myanmar's mining
areas, locals found that there were benefits to using the
"People became aware that modern equipment can help them
examine stones in greater detail, and that modern mining
techniques will produce better quality stones," U Tun Shwe
As a result, the demand for training in the modern gemmology
practices increased and a handful of courses were started,
aimed at increasing the industry's knowledge of gem
varieties, equipment handling techniques and grading
The first gemmology training courses were introduced by the
private sector about 14 years ago. Seven years later the
Ministry of Education followed suit and began offering
diplomas and bachelor degrees in gemmology through the
Geology Department of Yangon University.
An official from the university said three-month long-basic
and advanced gemmology training courses are held four times
"There are about 10 subjects available, such as an
introduction to crystallography, laboratory techniques,
evaluation and marketing. So far we have held and completed
30 courses," the official said.
Once trainees have completed the basic and advanced courses,
they can join the university's six-month diploma program to
further their career prospects.
The diploma courses cover eight subjects, including basic
geology, elementary crystallography, the physical and
optical properties of gemstones, and the identification of
synthetic and imitation gem materials. They are taught by a
group of experienced professors.
Diploma holders can also enrol in the four-year bachelor of
science in engineering program, which gives undergraduates a
solid base of theoretical and practical knowledge in gems
and gem mining.
U Aung Ko, the chair of the Genuine Gems Associates Co Ltd-GGA,
said that since Myanmar is so rich in gem deposits, proper
training is vital to help give the industry a competitive
"Buyers and sellers need to be trained in gem evaluation so
they cannot be cheated as easily ," U Aung Ko said.
This is important because gem prices are not fixed and rely
heavily on industry evaluations.
U Aung Ko said GGA also offers short gemmology courses for
local and international trainees, So far about 50
representatives of overseas industries have attended.
One of the trainees, Ko Kyi Myint, said his interest in
gemmology motivated him to join, and within a month he was
able to differentiate between imitation and authentic