The valley of Mogak just northeast of Mandalay in Burma, known as Myanmar today, lies the area where the world’s most beautiful gems have been found for a thousand years.
To travel to Myanmar today, a traveler must pay a significant amount of money to get there and expect a long difficult journey.
After a treacherous trip, the Valley of Myanmar can be reached with a population of 500,000 people. The population is there because of the beautiful rubies and sapphires that are mined in the area. One passes through streets which cater to the mining industry. Hundreds of shops that carry equipment and tools for mining and cutting equipment can be found there.
Mines of all sizes are owned by individuals or corporations in joint ventures with the government. They are found throughout the town and in the surrounding hills. Some of the most productive mines are known as Yadana Kaday-Kar, Shwe Pi Aye, Lin Yaung Gyi and Pyanung Gaung mines. Well-known geologists and expensive equipment can be found at these mines in particular.
All the mines work very much in the same way: gem gravel is taken from pits and emptied into sluices, “a channel to drain or carry off surplus water” allowing the heavy stones, hopefully gemstones, to show through. Profits are shared between everyone to keep them honest. Men, women and children take part in this activity. Children consider this work as “getting together with friends for a game of football after school”.