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Vietnamese Ruby

its best: “Burma.” Mere mention of the place still makes mouths water and pulses pound in anticipation of seeing the finest color known for this red corundum.

In the future, ideal color and beauty in ruby may become synonymous with a second locale: Vietnam. When these rubies first appeared on the market in late 1990, dealers were shocked by their vivid color and exceptional crystalline clarity. The jewelry world was so starved for fine ruby that skeptical dealers thought they were man-mades. Now they know better.

Although many Vietnamese stones have a hot pink color that might be called pink sapphire rather than ruby, at their best, these gems have a glow in the dark vivid red color and sparkling lively brilliance that take your breath away.

That means that Vietnam has the potential to be a major new source of high-end ruby. But that potential has not been realized.

In fact, you are unlikely to have the chance to see a fine ruby from Vietnam today. Vietnamese ruby evaporated from the market only a few years after it was discovered. The reasons have as much to do with the realities of the market as with geology.

Vietnamese ruby was never an easy specialty. Even traders familiar with the kind of frontier trading post style of gem buying required in Madgascar and Nigeria found buying in Vietnam a frustrating experience.

Negotiating was slow and difficult, with a single stone taking days. In fact it might take days before a dealer was even offered a fine stone. Each ruby then had to be painstakingly tested, since many parcels were salted with synthetics. Since natural origin is easiest to confirm by looking at inclusions, the tiny birthmarks and flaws contained inside the gem, Vietnam’s stones are particularly hard to identify as natural. Unfortunately the unscrupulous took advantage of this fact. Exceptionally clean Vietnamese stones must, as a rule, be sent to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for identification as natural.

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Vietnamese Ruby