Mogok Gem Mines

The Valley of Rubies


Useful Information

Location: Mogok. 200km north of Mandalay. Organized trip from Mandalay.
Open: All year. MAY to SEP (rainy season) recommended.
[2020]
Fee: Depends on duration and operator.
[2020]
Classification: MineGem Mine ruby and sapphire mines
Light: electric.
Dimension: A=1,170m asl.
Guided tours: typically 3 days
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: L.A.N. Iyer (1953): The geology and gem-stones of the Mogok Stone Tract, Burma Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India, 82. Government of India Press, Calcutta, India, 100 pp.
D.L. Spaulding (1956): The ruby mines of Mogok, Burma Gems & Gemology 8 (11), 335-342. online
D. Searle, B. T. Haq (1964): The Mogok Belt of Burma and its relation to the Himalyan Orogeny, Proc. 24th Intern, Geol.
Address: Mogok Gem Mines, Tel: +95-, Fax: +95-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1217 according to legend founded by three lost hunters who discovered rubies at the base of a collapsed mountain.
2018 area opened for foreign visitors.

Geology

The geology of this small area is unique and complicated hence the wild variety of gemstones. The forming of the minerals is a result of contact and regional metamorphism. Gems are found in alluvial marble gravels which derive from weathering of the metamorphosed limestones (marbles) of the Mogok metamorphic belt. In underground mines ruby and sapphire are extracted mechanically from their marble host rock. Also mined are pegmatites containing topaz, tourmaline, and rare boron minerals.


Description

The Mogok Gem Mines are world famous, the area around the town is called Valley of gems. The most important gems are rubies and sapphires, spinel and moonstone, but other minerals are found too. The list includes peridote, topaz, aquamarine, quartz, zircon, chrysoberyl, scapolite, apatite, lapis lazuli, diopside, enstatite, sillimanite, danburite, painite, taaffeite, and tourmaline. The whole area is spreckled with operating mines. Their is neither a mining museum nor a show mine. So this is not about a certain location, it is about a certain trip which is offered to tourists. Participants are driven by a driver and guide in a car to Mogok and back. Because of the long drive, some 7 hours, you spend actually two nights and one and a half days at Mogok.

The itinerary depends on the company you book and the guides. They will show you operating mines, at least one, more likely two, and you will see the whole mining process: extraction, washing, sorting, cutting and polishing. Also you will visit the local gem market and an open-air market which includes a gathering of gem merchants. The trip is completed by some sightseeing with buddha statues and pagodas.

The miners, gem dealers and gem cutters of Mogok have some tradition. Since the end of the 19th century they migrated to Chanthaburi (Thailand) and Pailin (Cambodia). Even more left Burma after the military coup in 1962. So the world famous Thai gem industry is actually based on Mogok mining techniques and Burmese dealers.

The area was opened to foreign visitors with a special authorization. If you book a tour the operator will obtain this permit, but you should book some time in advanced because this takes time. Foreigners are allowed to purchase gems, but only at shops registered for export. With your purchase you will get a certificate for export which you will need when leaving the country.