FURA rubıes bear a strıkıng resemblance to the fınest Burmese gems

Long years have passed since the colour gemstone industry was last blessed with the magic and abundance of rubies as superb as the Burmese Mogok gems. But the Mogok mines are exhausted, and economic sanctions have greatly constrained Myanmar’s trade with the world.

The lack has been felt. The gems and jewellery industry has continued to seek Burma-quality rubies eagerly and worldwide, but with little success. From late last year, however, there has been a rising tide of talk among colour gemstone buyers on the trade circuit about a new kind of ruby, one that is highly desirable and comparable in quality to the Burmese rubies of the past.

The excitement was set off by FURA Gems’ debut auction, in August–September 2021, of ruby roughs from its new mine near Montepuez, Mozambique. The story of this mine’s promising production began as recently as January 2020, when FURA obtained mining rights.

The Magical glow

Kenneth Scarratt

To its own surprise, FURA has unearthed gems quite distinct from those usually mined in Mozambique. “The general notion is that every mine produces one quality of material only, but that’s not true,” says Kenneth Scarratt, Managing Partner of the International Colored Gemstone Association’s ICA GemLab and former Director for South East Asia of the Gemological Institute of America.

From initial studies, FURA’s experts had inferred that a large area of the east–west region licenced to them had the potential of producing rubies, in volume, with a high chromium and proportionally lower iron content. This composition is typical of high-quality rubies.

Today, “FURA’s Mozambique rubies stand proudly apart from what is currently available on the market,” says Dev Shetty, President and Founder, FURA Gems. “These highly fluorescent rubies are establishing themselves as a market differentiator.”

Describing his reaction upon first handling the gems, Thanong Leelawatanasuk, Deputy Director (Technical) of the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand says, “The FURA rubies are more attractive, as they are lighter in colour than the deep and dark red colour of Mozambican rubies seen in the past. We have seen a similar glow in Mogok rubies.”

The unique chemical composition of FURA’s rubies “gives an agreeably high, if not highest-ever, fluorescence in a ruby,” says Leelawatanasuk. “This will make a difference to a market accustomed to deep red tones.”

“Burmese rubies have a much lower iron content, because of which their fire and fluorescence is higher,” he explains, adding that Burmese and Mozambican mines differ in geological makeup. FURA’s rubies, he confirms, have significantly higher fluorescence than their Mozambican peers.

Experts who have examined the gems agree that the trained eyes of “buyers [will] recognise the more open colour of these rubies,” says Akshay Jain of FEI, a valued client of Fura. “It is a combination of the fluorescence and brighter colour tone that makes FURA rubies so striking,” says Dean of Peninsula Gems, a veteran in the color gemstone industry and a valued client of Fura. He is certain that discerning buyers will not fail to note the difference, because it is palpable.

Mark of excellence

Kennedy Ho

Kennedy Ho, Chairman of the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in Bangkok, Thailand, who examined a small lot of FURA ruby roughs, says he identified among them one pigeon-blood ruby. “That is the mark of excellence that rubies with darker tones will never get,” he says. The legendary mines of Mogok have been, thus far, the only source of the finest, vivid red and pigeon-blood rubies.

Multiple laboratories have tested ruby rough samples from FURA Gems. They confirm the surprising novelty that this particular mine in Cabo Delgado is bringing to the global ruby market. For the colour gemstone industry, the message is clear. There is, at long last, a quality of ruby on the market that is comparable, on a number of parameters, to the intensely desired and desirable Mogok gem.

FURA’s rubies are unmistakable: distinct and glorious. “They are more attractive than what is usually seen from Mozambique,” says Dean. And it is only as recently as the first auction last year that experts and the market have had access (in volumes) to rubies in this rare and attractive colour.

‘Takers in any market’

Dean’s first reaction to these rubies was, he says, “The stones are beautiful!” About the promise these newly introduced rubies hold for the market, he says, “They will be in demand in all parts of the world. Demand for high-quality rubies will always exceed the current supply.”

He hopes the company will ramp up production to make more of these rubies available. “FURA Gems has become a future source of rubies from Mozambique,” Dean says. “With FURA’s rubies, the colour range of rubies, as a whole, increases.” While the produce of a mine will always be a mix of good and not-so-good stones, what is surprising about FURA’s rubies is that the bulk of them are fluorescent, in lighter tones and an attractive red colour.

Buyers have, over time, reconciled themselves to the prevalence of darker-toned rubies in the global supply. “They mostly associate African rubies with that tone,” says Leelawatanasuk, “but FURA’s lighter-coloured rubies will change this perception.”

Thanong Leelawatanasuk

Different markets do grow accustomed to different varieties of a product, says Scarratt, who has more than four decades of experience in the industry, “But my first impression of FURA’s rubies was that such high-quality, bright rubies will find takers in any market they reach. Buyers will love them!”

The various qualities of ruby all have their own niche in the market. Dark-toned rubies are prevalent, “so whenever a lighter or different variety surfaces, there will be demand for it,” says Leelawatanasuk. “With Thailand being the main [producer of] rubies, it is good to see a [new] variety emerge from Mozambique.

For a fresh operation such as [FURA’s] in Mozambique, the quantity and quality of rubies are very good,” says Jain. “As of now, FURA is at an initial stage of [mining operations],” says Leelawatanasuk. “With more exploration, they will get better-quality rubies that will aid their scale of supply.”

Backed by the numbers

FURA’s mine in Mozambique covers 62,853 hectares and may yield as much as 30 million carats by December 2022. These numbers make FURA Gems one of the largest ruby suppliers in the world; and, what’s more, the mine has an expected life of three decades. The world market should be well-supplied with fine rubies through the foreseeable future.