Field Report

GIA Field Gemologists seek Ruby, Sapphire, and Spinel in Mogok, Myanmar

GIA Staff
October 30, 2015

Seeking Mogok’s Hidden Gems

Play Hunting for Ruby, Sapphire, and Spinel in Mogok, Myanmar
Venture into Mogok’s deepest mines with GIA field gemologists.

This video takes you deep underground with GIA’s Field Gemologists Vincent Pardieu and Dr. Aaron Palke as they explore the geology of Mogok’s ruby, sapphire, and spinel deposits.

Mogok’s unparalleled reputation as the source of fine gemstones goes back more than 800 years. The Mogok mining area is about 400 miles (650 km) north of Yangon in a densely vegetated, mountainous area rising to 7,700 feet (2,347 meters) above sea level.

This video shows the lengths GIA’s field gemologists go to in order to secure gemstone samples for research and provides a rare glimpse into some of Mogok’s deepest underground hard-rock mining operations. It documents their sometimes perilous descent down handmade ladders and via ropes and pulleys into the depths of some of these famous mines. At one point the intrepid gemologists are 1,200 feet (365 meters) below the surface. According to Pardieu, that deep descent into the mining operation in the Kadoke Tad area—where the group witnessed ruby mining—was the expedition’s highlight.

Later, the markets and temples of Mogok township demonstrate the romantic allure and timeless appeal this location and its people have for so many gemologists and gem dealers. “There’s something absolutely amazing about Mogok,” offers Pardieu. “This place produces the best quality ruby, the best quality sapphire, the best quality spinel, the best quality peridot, probably in the world.”

This GIA Field Expedition (FE62) took place in June 2014. Besides Pardieu and his cameraman Didier Gruel, the participants were two geologists, Dr. Gaston Giuliani, Director of Research at the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) in Nancy, France, and Dr. Aaron Palke, post-doctoral research associate at GIA in Carlsbad.

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