The 13-day emporium that opened on June 17 is expected to draw around 5000 local and foreign visitors who will bid for the raw jade, gems, jewellery and sculptures up for sale.
Traders carefully examined raw slabs of jade with torches and measuring tapes at a sprawling complex in the formerly junta-ruled nation’s capital.
“We invited [merchants from] Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand and China for this year’s gems emporium,” said U Than Zaw Oo, vice chair of the annual event’s organising committee.
“More than 2000 gem traders came from those countries. Most are from China,” he added.
Up to 90 percent of the world’s jadeite – the most sought-after type of jade – is mined in northern Myanmar, feeding a vast appetite for the green stone in Asia and particularly China, where it is believed to ward off evil spirits and improve health.
The country’s secretive trade remains highly profitable, although the exact revenues from sales of the precious stone remain unknown.
Large amounts of jade are sold through illegal mines and in rebel-held areas despite reforms by a quasi-civilian government aimed at opening up the resource-rich nation to the world.
U Kyaw Naing, a gems company owner from Mandalay on the look-out for high-quality jade, said it was tough work negotiating a good deal.
“We normally bid for 10 items each day. If we are lucky, we will get them for the price that we want,” he said.
According to state media, last year’s gems emporium generated a record US$3.4 billion and was attended by more than 4000 traders from Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Japan.
This year’s sale will showcase 8943 lots of jade and 323 lots of gems.
Source: Myanmar Times