At the northernmost point of Thailand, near
the Burma borderline, opposite
Tachilek, the twin towns, are now
known throughout the gem world as a
source for rubies.
Burma, now called Myanmar, has been known to produce the world’s best
rubies and often times are funneled through this corner of the Golden
Triangle. Burma’s sapphires and gem-quality jade and jade boulders,
sometimes weighing several hundred kilograms, can be found on a
merchant’s property on either side of the border. However, although
gemologists from the world over often visit both sides of the border, most
transactions are finalized on the Thai side, Maesai.
The Maesai Market
A steady flow of ruby rough is usually a daily occurrence with parcels
ranging from several stones into 10’s and 20’s of carats, to smaller carat
stones in 1/2 to 1 kg parcels. There are many temptations on the market,
but one should spend the time in the market to sort out its many trends.
Also found on the market are sapphires from Sri Lanka, Cambodia and
Laos. Wherever there is a gem market, it seems that gem merchants find
the opportunity to travel to this northern destination to trade or sell gem
goods from as far away as Africa, Afghanistan and Australia.
There are several small factories available for all the services required for
gemstone production, including cutting, polishing, heat treatment and
carving if necessary.
I have witnessed high quality gems pass through Maesai, bound for Japan.
Seven stones purchased out of a selection of 20 in the rough, the largest of
the Mogok selection were over 44 carats plus, gem-quality. Not all stones
are witnessed, and major stones that penetrate this border are only a phone
call away from being sold on the Thai marketplace or the international
Although Mong Hsu is referred to as the new mine, it seems that most
stones are from this mine. Mogok, the old mine, is usually the request made
by most gemologists, however, it seems that there are adequate quantities
and quality stones from Mong Hsu to please those who venture to this
If it’s gems that one comes for, don’t forget the charm of the mixed cultures
at this major crossroad of the gem world. Rich in culture, one can find
Tibetan minorities mixed with Chinese, Thai, Burmese and even
headhunters most have never heard existed.
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our Asia Insiders page.