The “Jade Act” of 2008 was terminated by President Obama on October 7 th, 2016. What was the Jade Act and what does it have to do with rubies?
The Jade Act was signed into law in an attempt to put economic pressure on the military dictatorship ruling Burma (Myanmar) by banning the importation of Burmese sourced rubies and jade into the United States. Ruby and jade exports make up roughly half of Myanmar’s G.D.P. (approximately 30 billion a year). Naturally The US is a major consumer so the hope was that the economic pressure would force reform in what is well known as one of the most corrupt and brutal regimes today. The act also bared the Generals and their associates from obtaining U.S. visas. But did it work? Of course not. Ruby gems don’t come with “Made in Myanmar” stamped on them. The material was simply re-routed to other countries and shipped from there. What it did was create substantial price increases in ruby material. That I can personally attest to from going to our trade shows. Prices doubled in the last 10 years before declining about 10% in the past year, no doubt in anticipation.
With just about the entire world turning against the ruling junta change had to come. The first election in decades was allowed and very popular new president elected. With this new government in power, there are glimmers of hope. The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) formed a task force which included Representatives of the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.), Jewelers of America and a Myanmar focused consulting group. This force met with industry investors, dealers and government officials in Myanmar to start the development of a transparent supply chain that works both for our industry as well as the country. Time will tell but there’s nothing more beautiful that a gem quality Burmese ruby. Hopefully they’ll become a little more affordable.