Price for Myanmar jade soars

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Jade blockJade dealers in Hong Kong said their businesses are suffering from soaring prices for Myanmar raw jade and jade jewelry due to concerns over a drying up of supplies from the jade-mining town of Hpakant in Kachin State, the Irrawaddy reported.

Dealers say that a few years ago they were able to buy a piece of Myanmar jade at trade fairs in Jieyang City, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, for about $2,700 and process it into a piece of jewelry that would sell at ten times the price of the raw stone.

Today, Hong Kong jade traders are struggling to turn a profit as they can barely afford to acquire raw jade, while many customers are turned off by the high prices for jade jewelry and demand is falling. Prices of those types of jades that are of high quality have actually risen with 10 to 15 per cent from 2013.

Myanmar produces the vast majority of the world’s jade, and its gemstones are of the highest quality. Most of it is sourced from the Hpakant, a small mining town located 350 kilometers north of Mandalay, in the conflict-torn Kachin Mountains.

Foreigners – except in specially arranged and approved tours as of late – are barred from visiting the frontier-like town, where thousands of workers perform dangerous, back-breaking work in order to unearth the gemstone. Most of the jade is bought up by Chinese dealers who smuggle it back to their country, where jade is more highly prized than gold.

Jade prices have risen over the past decade as the spending power of Chinese consumers increased. The bubble in the jade market has now reportedly occurred due to fears over a shortage of Myanmar jade or the possible introduction of measures by Myanmar’s reformist government that would limit jade exports and force jade-processing to take place in country.

Jade reserves in Hpakant could run out in the near future, when bigger mining companies using sophisticated technology move in to replace current labor-intensive forms of mining.

Ministry of Commerce trade data showed that jade in 2013 was the country’s second-biggest official source of revenue after natural gas in 2011-2012, valued at about $780 million. It remains unclear how much revenue the government generates from the gemstone trade.

However, a July 2013 report by the Ash Center at Harvard University in the US put the value sales of Myanmar jade as high as $8 billion in 2011. The discrepancy in these data suggests that most of the jade flows over the border unregulated.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jade dealers in Hong Kong said their businesses are suffering from soaring prices for Myanmar raw jade and jade jewelry due to concerns over a drying up of supplies from the jade-mining town of Hpakant in Kachin State, the Irrawaddy reported.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jade blockJade dealers in Hong Kong said their businesses are suffering from soaring prices for Myanmar raw jade and jade jewelry due to concerns over a drying up of supplies from the jade-mining town of Hpakant in Kachin State, the Irrawaddy reported.

Dealers say that a few years ago they were able to buy a piece of Myanmar jade at trade fairs in Jieyang City, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, for about $2,700 and process it into a piece of jewelry that would sell at ten times the price of the raw stone.

Today, Hong Kong jade traders are struggling to turn a profit as they can barely afford to acquire raw jade, while many customers are turned off by the high prices for jade jewelry and demand is falling. Prices of those types of jades that are of high quality have actually risen with 10 to 15 per cent from 2013.

Myanmar produces the vast majority of the world’s jade, and its gemstones are of the highest quality. Most of it is sourced from the Hpakant, a small mining town located 350 kilometers north of Mandalay, in the conflict-torn Kachin Mountains.

Foreigners – except in specially arranged and approved tours as of late – are barred from visiting the frontier-like town, where thousands of workers perform dangerous, back-breaking work in order to unearth the gemstone. Most of the jade is bought up by Chinese dealers who smuggle it back to their country, where jade is more highly prized than gold.

Jade prices have risen over the past decade as the spending power of Chinese consumers increased. The bubble in the jade market has now reportedly occurred due to fears over a shortage of Myanmar jade or the possible introduction of measures by Myanmar’s reformist government that would limit jade exports and force jade-processing to take place in country.

Jade reserves in Hpakant could run out in the near future, when bigger mining companies using sophisticated technology move in to replace current labor-intensive forms of mining.

Ministry of Commerce trade data showed that jade in 2013 was the country’s second-biggest official source of revenue after natural gas in 2011-2012, valued at about $780 million. It remains unclear how much revenue the government generates from the gemstone trade.

However, a July 2013 report by the Ash Center at Harvard University in the US put the value sales of Myanmar jade as high as $8 billion in 2011. The discrepancy in these data suggests that most of the jade flows over the border unregulated.

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