Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pretty Little Things: Yangon's Gem Museum

Myanmar is famous for its gemstone. These sparkly things are definitely a girl's bestfriend, but unlike shoes, handbags or clothes, gemstone is not an item that one will buy on impulse, right? While I do posses a lot of accessories, they are all the non-precious, funky and upbeat kind, like the ones you could find at Sinma or flea market. I seriously don't think I'll be tempted to buy a lot of gems here.

Mmmmmmmmm, that is before I visited the Gem Museum in Yangon.

The actual museum was only on the fourth floor. The first three floors are gem and jewelry shops. Mmmmmmmmmm. (Can you already guess where this is going?)

To enter the museum, foreigners have to pay USD 5 (you only have to pay if you want to enter the museum. You are free to roam the shop levels). The displays are okay for one-time visit, though I would say it is quite a letdown if you think about the entrance fee. Pretty much all kind of gemstones you can find in Myanmar are displayed here, from amethyst, moonstone, ruby, sapphire, jade and so on. There are rough, unpolished samples which to my untrained eyes, looks like chunky quartz that you can find on the roadside. I would have chuck the stone out, not realising it's real worth. Then there are also the loose, cut-stone versions, all polished and pretty. Lastly, a set of displays of jewelry such as pendant, brooch, rings, necklace and I went all krrrraaayyyyyyyyzzzzzeeee. The craftsmanship is just fabulous for some of them (most are rather ordinary or nothing special especially since you can find prettier designs at the shops around the city). There are a couple of items that I just fall in love with (too bad photograph is not allowed), such as a golden brooch in the shape of a dragonfly with pearl and ruby inlays, a gold necklace with woven-like texture, little jade elephants decorated with colored gemstones and a tea set made of jade (ahhh, how cool and emperor-like must if feel to drink tea out of a jade tea pot and cups?!). Too bad the collection is not more extensive, or has more educational value besides just simple labels. As a geologist, and as a woman who enjoy pretty things, I can appreciate the display. Even then I only spent twenty minutes in the museum and more than an hour at the shops downstairs (that's pretty telling, huh?). I could see how many others might think there's nothing much there especially considering the rather steep entrance fee.

But no worry! Head down to the first, second and third floors and feast your eyes. I was like a moth floating to the light, enchanted by the blinding sparkle. I was like a kid in a candy store, all excited and giddy. Gems of every colors imaginable! Peridote! Citrine! Ruby! Sapphire! Everywhere I turned! Silver and gold! Even if you won't buy anything, it was just nice looking at the jewelry and try them on. Is this how it feels to walk into Cartier, huh?

Aaahhhhhh, restrain, restrain!

(My souveniers. Hehehe)

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