Rubies from Africa fill the void left by Burmese rubies with their flashes of rich red

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Louis Vuitton high jewellery ring featuring a centrally set African ruby, flanked by diamonds

 

 

 

With prized Burmese ruby mines virtually depleted, gem hunters have turned to Africa in their quest to find the perfect red gem.

Natural Burmese Ruby, 5.00ct.
Natural Burmese Ruby, 5.00ct.

 

 

Higher in value than sapphires or emeralds, and often more valuable than diamonds, the most coveted rubies have traditionally emerged from the ancient Mogok mines in Upper Burma, or Myanmar.

 

Today, these mines are virtually depleted, sending the price of prized Burmese rubies sky high. Add to this the protracted US embargo on goods from Myanmar and it is easy to understand why gem hunters have turned elsewhere in their quest for the perfect red gem. And so it is that African rubies are coming into their own and increasingly adding their flash of rich red to high jewelry pieces.

 David Morris Mozambique ruby bangle, with a round white diamond micro-set surround set in white gold
David Morris Mozambique ruby bangle, with a round white diamond micro-set surround set in white gold

 

“Everyone dreams of a 10 carat Burmese ruby ring,

2.14ct Natural Ruby set in a Platinum and 18ky Gold Ring Setting with .61cts of diamonds.
2.14ct Natural Ruby set in a Platinum and 18ky Gold Ring Setting with .61cts of diamonds.

 

but not everyone can pay £15 million for one,” says Jeremy Morris of London’s David Morris, a reflection on the colossal prices that top-quality rubies can fetch. Only last year the record price of $8.6 million was paid for an 8.6 carat Burmese ruby ring, previously the property of Greek magnate Dimitri Mavrommatis.

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This Graff Ruby ring set a new world auction record at Sotheby’s Magnificent and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva in 2014 when it was sold back to Laurence Graff for $8.6m.
Cartier Reine Makéda necklace in platinum, set with a 15.29 carat oval-shaped ruby from Mozambique, alongside rose-cut and pear-shaped diamonds, and cabochon-cut ruby beads. The ruby choker can be detached and worn separately from the diamond necklace.
Cartier Reine Makéda necklace in platinum, set with a 15.29 carat oval-shaped ruby from Mozambique, alongside rose-cut and pear-shaped diamonds, and cabochon-cut ruby beads. The ruby choker can be detached and worn separately from the diamond necklace.

 

African rubies are starting to take up the void left by the Burmese, and the African ruby that caused the biggest stir last year was a 15.29 carat oval-shaped Mozambique gemstone. The ruby sits plumb center in Cartier‘s impressive Reine Makéda multi-strand ruby necklace, which was presented at the prestigious Biennale des Antiquaires. This spectacular jewel was the star of the Royal collection of haute joaillerie, which gathered precious stones and those of regal provenance, and incorporated them into high jewelry creations. With African rubies taking such a prominent role, it is difficult to ignore the importance of these colored gemstones.

One-of-a-kind Niquesa Rose of the Desert ring set with a central Gemfields African ruby and Gemfields emeralds, encased in diamonds.
Niquesa-ruby-and-emerald-ring_jpg--760x0-q80-crop-scale-subsampling-2-upscale-falseOne-of-a-kind Niquesa Rose of the Desert ring set with a central Gemfields African ruby and Gemfields emeralds, encased in diamonds. The African ruby and emeralds peep through when viewed from behind in Niquesa’s Rose of the Desert ring.

 

Gemfields, a mining company dedicated to conquering the colored gemstone market, has added a larger number and more consistent quality of rubies to the supply chain, from its Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. This new source is having a considerable impact on the global ruby market. Last December, Gemfields reported that its auction of Mozambique rubies raised $43.3 million – the highest in its history.

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Gemfields’ Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique is having a considerable impact on the global ruby market, following the virtual depletion of mines in Burma.

 

Whatever the origin of a ruby, and they can be found on several continents, it is the “pigeon’s blood” ruby that sets the gold standard, and traditionally these have been from Burma. “Pigeon’s blood” is a term used to describe a particular hue of ruby, regardless of its origin, which is used by gem laboratories and dealers to classify stones.

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Gemfields is dedicated to conquering the coloured gemstone market and has recently added a larger number and more consistent quality of African rubies to the supply chain, including this 40ct ruby.

 

André Abadjian of Star Diamond Private Jeweler, which offers both Burmese and African rubies to its clients, explains: “Before, it was mainly just Burmese rubies that people wanted but, in the last few years, with the discovery of ruby mines in Mozambique and Tanzania, people have started to like them because of the beautiful quality and, of course, the price.”

Extravagant art deco-style ruby ring from Star Diamond Private Jeweller featuring a deep red African ruby flanked by emerald-cut diamonds.
Extravagant art deco-style ruby ring from Star Diamond Private Jeweller featuring a deep red African ruby flanked by emerald-cut diamonds.

 

And is there a difference between the famous Burmese rubies and African ones? Burmese are known for their fluorescence, which makes them appear to glow – a characteristic that is particularly visible in pigeon’s blood varieties, which emit a purple-hued glow. “The slight difference is the color,” explains Abadjian, who spends his days looking at precious stones. “The Burmese are a rich red and the African rubies have a small touch of purple. You can tell the difference between an African and a Burmese ruby, except those from the Windsor mine in Tanzania, which are very close to the Burmese.”

Constel ruby ring from Star Diamond Private Jeweller. The vivid red Mozambique ruby is set within a sunburst of pear- and round-cut white diamonds.
Constel ruby ring from Star Diamond Private Jeweller. The vivid red Mozambique ruby is set within a sunburst of pear- and round-cut white diamonds.

 

The slightly lighter pink of some African rubies is also appealing to a younger clientele and opens the scope to new color combinations in jewels. Houses such as Bulgari and de GRISOGONO are embracing African rubies, which look like they are here to stay.

 

Natural Unheated African Ruby (AIGS) 1.05 carat
Natural Unheated African Ruby (AIGS) 1.05 carat

 



 


 


 



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