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Early travelers' tales from Myanmar sparkle with descriptions of priceless and miraculous gems, none more fabulous than the blood-red ruby. The Inwa King of Ava was reputed to have a ruby the size of a small hen's egg which he had mounted as an ear-pendant, and the King of Bago is said to have owned rubies that glowed so brightly they lit up the country at night. These tales may be apocryphal, but they were based on genuine amazement at the unmistakable quality of Myanmar gems.

Burruitha has always been the world's largest producer of rubies, one of the rarest and most costly of precious stones. It is also the only source of the most highly prized specimens, those of the so-called pigeon's blood color, a red something like that of a traffic stop light.

The country' largest ruby mines are located at Mogok, in the western Shan State about 100 kilometers north east of Mandalay . Historically, the Myanmar kings took the best of the output of the Mogok mines, but under British rule in the 19th century sole buying rights were awarded to a London-based firm. Today the mines are nationalized.

Myanmar rubies are rare treasures but excellent synthetic stones are now common. Now, not all that glows like pigeon's blood has been forged by nature.

Ruby beyond its brilliance

Rubies in Sanskrit were called ratnaraj, which means "King of the precious gems". The gem is also believed to have healing powers and a popularly used term, "down blood" refers to the belief that rubies can abate hemorrhaging and cure any inflammation. It is also believed rubies can remove evil thoughts, and the lucky owner of a fine ruby is said to be assured of a life of peace.

Myanmar 's rubies which have distinct inclusions of hair-like "Shu Taings" are valued by international gem traders.

In 1984, a 5.56 carat stone dubbed, "the crown of Mogok" was discovered. The blood red stone is beautiful and flawless. Mogok rubies emit different shades of fluorescence when showered with ultra violet light, and that makes Myanmar rubies distinctive.

Myanmar 's largest rubies

Several large rubies have been found in Myanmar. On 2nd April 1990 , a large ruby named "The Crown of Nawarat" was dug up from the Pyinlon gem tract, and this 9.25 carat stone is kept as a national treasure. Another large sized stone named the "Nawata Ruby" was also discovered at Mogok gem fields in early 1990. This ruby weighed 496.5 carats after being cut and polished. In 1996, the world's biggest ruby, weighing 21,450 carats, was discovered at Kin village in the Mogok area.