Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blood Rubies financing Burmese Junta.

Posh in a diamond and Burmese ruby suite w/ Diamond earrings.

Rubies have always been unlucky for me.
Some of Britain's leading jewellers have been accused of propping up the military dictatorship in Burma by trading in "blood" rubies sourced from the country.

Asprey, Cartier, Leviev and Harrods are selling the gems in their central London stores, with some items costing as much as £500,000.

Rubies from Burma are among the most sought after in the world and experts claim the military junta makes tens of millions of pounds each year from the lucrative trade. While America has banned all imports from Burma, the gems continue to be sold in Britain despite government claims that it "discourages" trade between the countries.


Last week an undercover reporter from The Sunday Times requested items of jewellery containing Burmese rubies at stores in London.

At the Leviev store in Old Bond Street, she was shown a £500,000 ring boasting a five-carat ruby set in diamonds. "Many collectors want Burmese [rubies]," said the sales assistant. "No one talks about diamonds any more, it's all Burmese or coloured diamonds."

Just up the road at Asprey, a company established in 1781, the reporter was shown a one-carat ruby ring costing £10,000.

On sale at the Cartier store in New Bond Street was a 3.18-carat ruby ring valued at £120,000. A sales assistant later e-mailed details of a 10.04-carat stone costing £1.2m.

"This is currently the largest example of a fine Burmese ruby that we could show you," he wrote. "It is currently part of a major exhibition in the Far East. However, it may be possible to view in the UK in the not-too-distant future."

At Harrods Diamonds, a franchise based in the Knightsbridge department store, rubies from Burma were described as "the best" — and those which are "pigeon blood" in colour the most prized.

The real deal:

Brian Leber, an American jeweller who campaigns against the trade in Burmese gems, said: "The military regime is receiving a great deal of benefit from the sale of rubies because not only do they control the licensing of all mining operations, but they also have a majority share in every mine in the country and run the auctions."