In our newsletter this month:
When Burma negotiated its political independence from Britain in 1947 there was finally hope that the Burmese could have both freedom and economic prosperity. But it was not to be. The Burmese revolutionary hero, Aung San, was assassinated even before the official independence day, and years of fragile democracy and civil war culminated in the army taking control in 1962, with General Ne Win creating a kind of hermit kingdom, isolating Burma from the world.
The recent devasting cyclone in Burma that left as many as 100,000 dead in the Irawaddy Delta is only the latest Burmese tragedy. There have been glimmers of hope in the past, especially in 1990, when a rare democratic election was won by the National League for Democracy. The NLD was led by Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San. Though she was prohibited from standing for election, the NLD won over 80% of the parliamentary seats. But the generals refused to recognize the election results and have kept Aung San Suu Kyi under almost continuous house arrest ever since.
The international community has struggled to find a way to help the Burmese people. Even much of the humanitarian aid for the victims of Cyclone Nargis has been refused by the paranoid Burmese junta. Economic sanctions have failed, since Burma's vast natural resources are eagerly consumed by China. Recent attempts to prevent the importation of Burmese gemstones into the USA and the European Union may make the west feel like they are taking action, but this only serves to further limit the livelihood of ordinary Burmese. With the protection of China, Burma can withstand any international pressure.
The situation in Burma is indeed tragic, and it is hard to see much cause for hope in the latest catastrophe. But sometimes tragic events have positive outcomes. It has happened before. India's aid to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake helped to bring the two archrivals closer together. The same happened in 1999 when Greece was the first country to come to Turkey's aid after a devastating earthquake, leading to a breakthrough in once-hostile relations between the two countries. The Burmese generals are now being forced to open the doors to accept international aid for their suffering people. But the generals have also demonstrated their utter callousness to their own citizens, including younger member of the military. It will not be forgotten. In a country that recognizes the power of karma, the generals may well have sealed their own fate.
Recently we've added new articles on topics ranging from rutilated quartz to tiger's eye to fracture-filled ruby, the history of the cushion cut and gemstone art. Click the link to see all our gemstone articles.
Rare and Unusual Gems
The demand for fine tanzanite continues to exceed demand. Nonetheless, much of the tanzanite in the market is mediocre: small in size, uninspring in color and indifferently cut. It wouldn't be so bad if tanzanite weren't so expensive.
Here is one of the finest pieces of tanzanite we've been able to buy in the last year. At an impressive 5 carats, this stone has a deeply saturated violet blue, the most desirable tanzanite color. The portuguese cut maximizes its brilliance. But what makes this piece especially rare is that it is graded IF -- internally flawless.
For more information about tanzanite see our Tanzanite Information Page.
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Happy gem hunting,
Your friends at GemSelect