GEM pictures made
with low-quality gemstones obtained as a by-product ofhigh-quality
gem production have become one of the symbols of Myanmar,
and efforts are underway by manufacturers to increase sales
in overseas markets.
Many Myanmar people enjoy giving me pictures to meir foreign
friends as souvenirs, as they highlight the country's
culture and arts, and also symbolise its prosperous and
varied gem trade.
The gem picture market was already well established in
countries like Thailand, Japan and Singapore before me art
form was introduced to me local market by Myanmar
businessmen in 1993.
However, Myanmar products only began to get popular on me
international market three years ago.
U Tha Htun of the Maniyadana Gemstone Picture Factory on
Shwe La Win Street, Sanchaung township, said that although
Myanmar Malaysia, got into me market 10 years later than
Thailand, Myanmar can make better products because of its
numerous gem varieties.
"We can use gemstones of better quality fur our products,
and when the country's fine arts were combined wim its
flourishing gemstone trade to make pictures, our products
started to become popular in me international market," U Tha
The gemstones most commonly used in me pictures are ruby,
sapphire, spinal and multi-coloured calcites, which are
widely available in Mogok in Mandalay bivision, he said.
A crucial component of me process used by major
manufacturers is quality control.
"We take great care during me quality control phase to
ensure me production of high
quality products mat will attain a good reputation in me
international market," U Tha Htun said.
U Tha Htunsaid mat me many small-scale factories mat have
been established in Mogok, where raw materials are readily
available, should also be concerned about the quality of
"Even though most small-scale factories target the local
market, their products will inevitably spread to other
countries as souvenirs. If they are not concerned about
quality then the reputation of Myanmar gem pictures will be
damaged," he said.
There are no exact standards for making gem pictures in
Myanmar, so producers follow standards established in other
countries, U Tha Htun said.
"We cannot export our products to Japan if we don't follow
the specifications of that country," he said.
Most of the country's exports go to Singapore and Malaysia,
from where buyers then distribute them to international
U Tha Htun said his factory produces gem pictures of three
qualities to satisfy a wide range of market demands: those
of moderate quality for souvenir hunters, those of high
quality for fine arts lovers, and those that are custom-made
according to the request of a specific buyer .
Daw Nwe Ni Tun Kyaw of the Idea Gem Pictures Factory in
North Dagon township in Yangon, one of the biggest
manufacturers in Myanmar, said the factory mainly produces
pictures for the overseas market.
"We have buyers from Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the United
States and South Korea," she said.
Many overseas buyers purchase gem pictures to give as gifts
during new years and other festival times. The factory is
busy throughout the year as overseas buyers place orders
about four months prior to the delivery dates, she said.
Daw Nwe Ni Tun Kyaw believes that overseas sales of Myanmar
gem pictures would increase further if manufacturers had the
means to display and sell their products on the
international market themselves.
Toward this end, Idea plans to display its picture at
international exhibitions next year, she said.
Idea makes pictures not only with Mogok gem-stones but also
with jade from Kachin State.
Pictures made with jade and oyster shells are popular among
Chinese buyers both in Myanmar and abroad; Many of them
depict dragons, lucky fish and other Chinese cultural
images, Daw Nwe Ni Tun Kyaw said.
"We have also received about 50 orders from companies who
wanted gem pictures of their brand names orlogos," she said.
U Tun Hla Aung, the chair of Ayawaddy-Mandalay Gems, Jade
and Jewellery Co-op., Ltd, said that sales of gem pictures
to locals have risen at their shop on Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
in Mayangone township since 2000.
He said that overseas demand for his company's pictures has
dropped during the past five years, but locals have been
buying gem pictures depicting pagodas, Buddha images,
marionettes, Mandalay moats and bullock carts, which
represent the traditions and culture of Myanmar.