Saturday, August 30, 2014

Myanmar Gems Museum

We visited the Myanmar gems museum on the Kaba Aye Pagoda Road. It is a 20 min ride from downtown with no traffic.

The country is famous for its gems: it has every kind of precious and semi-precious gems you can imagine. Inside the museum there is a huge map of Myanmar, in relief, showing the different mines inside the country. You can press different buttons which will light up colourful leds showing the different locations of the mines based on their main gem production. We pressed all buttons and the map looked like a Christmas tree.

The museum sits on the 4th floor of the building. The below floors are occupied by dozens of shops which sell jewelery in silver and gold with all kinds of gems. Myanmar is well-known for jade. You will find cheap jewelery in jade starting from a few dollars and going to a few thousands. The darker the green hue of the jade the better the quality. The Myanmar diamond is only of secondary quality; the best one is in Africa. However, Myanmar has the best quality sapphire and ruby stones out there.

You can visit the museum in a maximum 40 minutes so it is better to visit if you also want to buy some souvenirs. Be sure you negotiate the price and be aware that if you wish to pay by credit card an additional fee of 4% will be added.

Below a very small selection of the beautiful pieces one can buy (purple saphhire set in gold ring and jade jewellery set in white gold).

Another place where you can buy jewelery is the Scott Market (Bogyoke Market). The market is quite touristic and it is quite tough to negotiate a good price. Some sellers even set the initial price so high that you just have to walk away. The problem here is the quality of the stones and unless you are an gems expert you may pay for inferior quality at the price of good quality.

For plain and good quality gold jewelery you have to visit the Chinatown in Yangon. There are plenty of small shops selling yellow gold at decent prices.

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