Pearl Auction ends

Merchants checking the quality of pearls.  Photo: MNA
Merchants checking the quality of pearls.  Photo: MNA

The Myanmar Pearl Auction ended yesterday after three days and selling nearly all available pearl lots on auction. Union Minister U Ohn Win made an appearance to thank the participants.
The state-run auction, which has been held in Myanmar since 1964, is organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, was held under an open tender system at the Myanmar Gems Museum.
This year’s state-owned pearl stock was sold out for total revenue of about Euro 2.3 million. Since 1964, Myanmar has held 90 pearl auctions earning revenues of US$ 115 million.
Sixty-two companies participated this year. In southern part of Myanmar, there is Myeik Archipelago, formerly known as Mergui Archipelago in the Taninthayi Region. It consists of 800 islands and the total area is 25,600 sq. kilometres. Almost all of the islands were virgin lands and they have been well known since ancient times, because of their inhabitants, Pinctada maxima oysters.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was renowned for its South Sea pearls in the 1800s, when the nomadic and sometimes enslaved Salon or Moken people, also known as “sea gypsies,” dived for natural pearls around the 800 islands of the Myeik Archipelago in the far south of the country.
The industry flourished with the advent of professional diving equipment, leading to attempts to regulate oyster harvesting by British colonial rulers.
The port of Myeik became a boom town, and Mumbai, then called Bombay, a center for pearl trading — which Indians still dominate today.
Myanmar’s celebrated return to the international fold has also helped.
“The lifting of sanctions allowed Myanmar pearls to be seen around the world and sold as Myanmar pearls,” said Craig Henderson, an Australian who spent five years as a pearl farmer in Myanmar. “Deep golden [pearls] have suddenly become popular and are now the most valued.”—MNA/GNLM

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