Mogok. The name of this legendary valley of rubies in Burma has become synonymous with the finest rubies in the world.
Over the past decades, the supply of Burmese Mogok rubies has dwindled, and this isn't only because the U.S. government posed sanctions on the military government of Myanmar (Burma).
The jewelry industry always had a fondness for rubies. We asked experts to tell us more about the exciting news of the rubies recently found by FURA Gems in Mozambique.
Kenneth Scarratt ( Managing Partner of the International Colored Gemstone Association's ICA GemLab, and former Director for Southeast Asia of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)) says: ''Thai rubies, followed by Mong Hsu rubies from Myanmar, filled the gap, even though these were nothing like their Burmese predecessors''.
Dev Shetty (CEO & Founder of FURA Gems) tells us how his company forayed into the mining of rubies at the Montepuez in the Cabo Delgado province of northeastern Mozambique commenced production in 2021. ''In exploration and early sampling, the FURA team had astounding revelations about the quality of the gems from their mine. He says that the rubies had a richness and glow rarely seen in Mozambique," he says. ''I knew intuitively that FURA had something unique and special to offer the market.''
We also spoke to Thanong Leelawatanasuk, the Deputy Director of The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand: "Even though the inclusions are typical of Mozambique rubies," he says, "the color tone is lighter and more attractive than rubies earlier seen from Mozambique. The material is of fairly good quality."
"Burmese rubies are generally pinkish-red, but the nicer ones from Mozambique are plain red, which is a good trait. FURA's Mozambican rubies are 'nicer''', according to Kennedy Ho, Chairman of the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS) in Bangkok, Thailand, founded 44 years ago as the first gemstone laboratory in Southeast Asia.
Thanong Leelawatanasuk; ''The produce from FURA's mines is unique and indisputable. FURA's rubies have a significantly higher fluorescence than other Mozambique rubies because of their high chromium content".
He continues: ''Their radiance and glow generate excitement in trade circles because these qualities are strongly associated with Mogok rubies.
"It is the high chromium-to-iron ratio, because of which rubies from both the regions glow"
"Roughs only help the gemologist analyze fluorescence and chromium and iron levels," says Kenneth Scarratt. "It is eventually the faceted material that helps the gemologist conclude a ruby's quality." Nevertheless, FURA rubies from Mozambique do echo the Mogok traits. "These are very bright and extremely nice," he says.
Is there a possibility of the presence of pigeon-blood* rubies among the FURA rubies?
"It is safe to say that of all the types of rubies found, Mozambique does have a particular type satisfying the right fluorescence and chromium concentration conditions to qualify them for the appellation," according to Kenneth Scarratt.
*Pigeon-blood rubies, this is the name for the most beautiful and rarest deep red Mogok rubies"
Kennedy Ho: "There has been one rough that we classified as pigeon blood." He hints at the possibility of finding more such rubies. Referring to the small batch of ruby roughs received by the laboratory from FURA, Kennedy Ho affirms the presence of pigeon-blood rubies.
Dean from Peninsula Gems is a valued client of FURA. He also participated in FURA's inaugural auction of Mozambican ruby roughs in September 2021.
"The rubies from FURA's mines are magnificent and quite unlike currently available. Rubies are in great demand, and FURA's rubies open up a whole new opportunity for traders looking to grow their market share," he says excitedly.
He continues, "FURA rubies have come on to the market at the right time. Earlier, we rarely saw such qualities in high volumes," says Dean. Pleasantly surprised by the finds, he remains hopeful that the company will increase its capacity to tap the market's potential fully.
Akshay Jain of FEI praises the gorgeous rubies he spotted at the auction. "Our experience at the first auction was quite good. The rubies are a sweeter color, more open. They resemble a lot of Burmese rubies," he says.
"FURA's ruby colors are among the most attractive in the market," says Jain, adding that FEI has a range of discerning clients worldwide whose trained eyes and long experience enable them to judge rubies simply by the brightness of color and fluorescence of the gems.
"Some of our clients particularly buy Burmese and not Mozambican rubies because they know the difference. I can say that the mine FURA is working on is splendid. It has the right material," says Jain.
Thanong Leelawatanasuk; ''The spectacular fluorescence of FURA's rubies lends each stone beauty of its own. "FURA is at an initial stage of its mining operations in Mozambique. With more exploration, they will get better-quality rubies, which will aid them in scaling supply."
When we asked Akshay Jain how existing markets — particularly China, a big market for rubies in darker tones — will adapt to the new supply from FURA, he said; "Sophisticated and discerning manufacturers and retailers will love it. They will know that this offering of rubies is special."
The experts concur that FURA's Mozambican rubies stand apart in the current gemstone market. Labs and buyers indicate that these may be the most promising available today, in quality and quantity.
The Mogok region is practically mined out, and the quality of FURA's offering presents the industry with an exciting new opportunity. Indeed one that will reignite the fire of passion of ruby lovers and connoisseurs.
''The elite buyers will welcome the chance to acquire these fine rubies from FURA's Mozambique mine''
FURA's 62,853-hectare mine in Mozambique has an expected life of three decades. The mine expects to yield 30 million carats of rubies by December 2022.
These facts make FURA one of the largest ruby suppliers in the world and signal the return of the glorious era of the best of Burma: the fabled Mogok ruby.