Maesai Gems, Thailand


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.

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