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How To Tell If A Ruby Is From Burma?

by Madonna

Rubies are among the most treasured gemstones in the world, and those from Burma (Myanmar) are considered the finest and most valuable. Burmese rubies are renowned for their vibrant color, exceptional clarity, and historical significance. Determining whether a ruby is from Burma involves understanding its physical characteristics, origins, and the methods used by gemologists for identification. This article will guide you through the process of identifying a Burmese ruby in a logical, easy-to-understand manner.

Historical and Geographical Context

The Legacy of Burmese Rubies

Burmese rubies, often referred to as “Pigeon’s Blood” rubies due to their vivid red hue, have been prized for centuries. The Mogok Valley in Burma has been the primary source of these rubies since the 6th century. The region’s unique geological conditions contribute to the formation of rubies with unparalleled color and quality.


Geological Formation

The rubies from Burma are formed in marble deposits, which lack iron. This low iron content allows for a pure, vivid red color without the brownish or purplish tints seen in rubies from other regions. The marble also imparts a high level of fluorescence, adding to the ruby’s brilliance under natural light.


Physical Characteristics of Burmese Rubies


The most defining characteristic of a Burmese ruby is its color. The ideal Burmese ruby exhibits a vibrant, pure red hue with a slight blue undertone. This intense color, often described as “pigeon’s blood,” is rare and highly sought after. When examining a ruby, pay attention to the consistency and saturation of the red color. Burmese rubies maintain their vivid color under various lighting conditions, which is a key indicator of their origin.



Burmese rubies are known for their exceptional clarity. While inclusions are common in all natural rubies, those from Burma typically have fewer and less noticeable inclusions. Common inclusions in Burmese rubies include fine rutile needles, known as “silk,” which can create a soft glow and enhance the gem’s appearance without significantly affecting transparency.


One of the unique properties of Burmese rubies is their strong red fluorescence under ultraviolet light. This fluorescence is due to the low iron content in the rubies. When exposed to UV light, Burmese rubies emit a bright red glow, enhancing their already vivid color. This property can be a useful tool in distinguishing Burmese rubies from those of other origins.

Scientific Methods for Identifying Burmese Rubies


Gemologists use various spectroscopic techniques to identify the origin of rubies. The absorption spectrum of a Burmese ruby typically shows a strong presence of chromium and a lack of iron. By analyzing the spectrum, gemologists can determine the chemical composition and trace elements, which are indicative of the ruby’s geographic origin.

Inclusion Analysis

Inclusions within a ruby provide valuable clues about its origin. Burmese rubies often contain specific types of inclusions that are unique to the Mogok region. These include rutile silk, calcite crystals, and other mineral inclusions that form under the unique conditions of the Burmese marble deposits. By examining these inclusions under a microscope, gemologists can make informed judgments about the ruby’s origin.

UV-Vis-NIR Spectrometry

UV-Vis-NIR spectrometry is another advanced technique used to analyze the light absorption and transmission properties of a ruby. This method helps in identifying the specific spectral features associated with Burmese rubies, such as the strong chromium absorption bands and the distinctive lack of iron-related features.

Professional Appraisal and Certification

Gemological Institutes

To confirm the origin of a ruby, it is advisable to seek certification from reputable gemological institutes such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL), or the Swiss Gemological Institute (SSEF). These institutions use advanced analytical techniques and have extensive databases to compare and verify the origin of gemstones.

Certification Reports

A certification report from a recognized gemological institute provides a detailed analysis of the ruby’s characteristics, including its color, clarity, cut, and origin. For Burmese rubies, the report will specifically mention the origin as “Burma” or “Myanmar” and may include additional notes on the presence of typical Burmese inclusions or fluorescence.

Market Considerations and Ethical Concerns

Market Value

Burmese rubies command a premium price in the market due to their rarity and exceptional quality. When buying a ruby, understanding its origin can significantly impact its value. Burmese rubies, especially those with “pigeon’s blood” color, are among the most expensive gemstones in the world. As such, verifying the origin is crucial for both buyers and sellers to ensure fair market value.

Ethical Sourcing

The gem trade has faced ethical issues, particularly concerning the sourcing of Burmese rubies. Historically, ruby mining in Burma has been linked to human rights abuses and environmental concerns. In recent years, there has been a push towards ethical sourcing and transparency in the gemstone industry. Consumers are increasingly demanding responsibly sourced gemstones, and certification from reputable institutes can provide assurance of ethical practices.

See Also: How to Tell If a Ruby Is Real with a Flashlight?

Practical Tips for Buyers

Visual Examination

When examining a ruby, start with a visual inspection. Look for the vivid red color, exceptional clarity, and strong fluorescence under natural and UV light. Use a jeweler’s loupe or microscope to check for typical Burmese inclusions such as rutile silk.

Request Certification

Always request a certification report from a reputable gemological institute. The report should confirm the ruby’s origin and provide detailed information about its characteristics. Be cautious of rubies without certification, as their origin and value can be difficult to verify.

Consult with Experts

If in doubt, consult with a professional gemologist or a trusted jeweler with experience in Burmese rubies. Their expertise can help you make an informed decision and avoid potential pitfalls in the gemstone market.


Determining whether a ruby is from Burma involves a combination of visual examination, scientific analysis, and professional certification. Burmese rubies are distinguished by their vibrant color, exceptional clarity, and strong fluorescence. Advanced techniques such as spectroscopy and inclusion analysis provide further evidence of their origin. By understanding these characteristics and seeking certification from reputable gemological institutes, you can confidently identify and appreciate the unique beauty of Burmese rubies.

In a market where provenance significantly impacts value, being informed and vigilant is essential. Ethical considerations also play a crucial role, as the gemstone industry moves towards greater transparency and responsible sourcing. Whether you are a collector, investor, or simply a lover of fine gemstones, knowing how to identify a Burmese ruby ensures that you can enjoy these precious gems with confidence and integrity.


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