Indian Gemstone Beads

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Asian Gemstone Bead

Asia is blessed with more gemological riches than any other region on Earth. The ancient diamond mines of India provided many of the most celebrated gemstones of all time. The earth and streams of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia yield rubies and sapphires, while the warm, clear seas of Indonesia and the Philippines nurture exquisite South Sea pearls. Myanmar and Sri Lanka hold the most dazzling treasure troves of all, producing gemstones of legendary beauty and amazing variety.

Most of the gem mining activity in Myanmar centers around the town of Mogok in the northern part of the country, which is nicknamed "Ruby Land." A mountain road from Mandalay, twisting through ancient teak forests infested with highwaymen, leads to this elusive land of million-dollar gems. In addition to ruby, Mogok and its environs possess large deposits of sapphire, diamond, spinel, peridot, apatite, scapolite, moonstone, zircon, garnet, tourmaline, iolite and amethyst. Upper Myanmar is the world's only major source of jadeite, the most beautiful and desired of the jade minerals, while gigantic South Sea pearls are cultivated in the tropical seas off Myanmar's southern coast. Top gem buyers from around the world gather in Yangon for the Gem, Jade and Pearl Emporium, an annual auction held by the government.

The tropical island of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is commonly known as the "island of gems" because of the spectacular range of jewels found in its gravelly soil. It is most famous for its lovely sapphires, but it also produces ruby, diamond, garnet, alexandrite, spinel, zircon, peridot, topaz, tourmaline, moonstone and a highly-prized chrysoberyl cat's eye. Gems are found throughout central and southern Sri Lanka" but large-scale mining is concentrated in the Ratnapura and Elahera areas. Sri Lankan gems are found in the crown jewels of Europe and in artifacts from China's Ming Dynasty tombs. Historians trace Sri Lanka's international gem trade back to 500 B.C., when Buddhists from northern India conquered the island and began setting its gems into jewelry for export.
Gemstones are deeply embedded in Asian cultures. In China, the cult of jade worship began in the Neolithic era, when objects made of the precious material were used in religious ceremonies, agriculture and war. Stone and Bronze Age gem mining tools have been uncovered in Mogok. Even the most ancient Sanskrit manuscripts are rich with tales of fantastic jewels, both mythical and real. Hindu literature tells of a jewel called Syamantaka, that hung around the neck of the Sun-god and gave him brilliance. When the Sun god presented the divine gem to a mortal, havoc ensued, as other mortals envied the owner. Syamantaka was a powerful gem which brought good to good and evil to evil, and caused the death of any impure person who dared to wear it.

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