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Myanmar

Even if there is no jade in the Narawat ring, we found it easier to place this subject in the Burmese jadeite section, as the Narawat ring is part of the Burmese culture, so jade and Narawat ring belong to the same country : Myanmar.

Nawarat rings are typically rings made of gold and set with nine carefully-selected gems, often called the “esteemed nine gems". A Nawarat ring is set with one of each :

- diamond : brings dignity

- pearl : synonym of splendour

- cat’s eye : for fulfillement

- zircon : brings strength

- emerald : means calm and tranquillity

- topaz : synonym of vigour

- blue sapphire : for love and affection

- coral : for leadership

- ruby : means glory and power

Each stone is believed to have a specific power and charm. A treatise on gems and jewels called Manishattara-Ratana says: “diamond brings dignity; pearl brings magnificence and grandeur; cat’s eye brings accomplishment and fulfillment; zircon brings strength; emerald brings calm and tranquility; topaz ensures health and vigour; sapphire brings love and affection, coral brings leadership and ruby brings glory or power.” It is therefore thought that by wearing a Nawarat ring, many good things will come to pass. Myanmar history books tell us that wearing the Nawarat ring was common in the time of the Yatanabon (1860-1885 AD) era kings.

During those years, only members of the royal family and high-ranking palace officials, were allowed to wear Narawat rings. “The belief (in the Narawat ring) is still popular. We make at least 20 Nawarat rings a month,” said U Than Maung, goldsmith for the famous Sun Moon Talisman Jewellery shop in Yangon, where most of Yangon’s Narawat rings are produced. He said mostly wealthy people order the rings for obvious reasons. “Making a Nawarat ring is very complicated and takes a great deal of the goldsmith’s time,” he said. U Than Maung said that not all customers are able to buy Nawarat rings at his shop.

Customers are chosen after calculating their horoscope and reading their palms. People who do not qualify are politely refused. Those who qualify must then choose the size and quality of the nine gems. The size and quality of each gem is proportionate to the wearer’s wealth and the strength of his faith. Depending on the quality of the gems, the value of a Nawarat ring ranges from K 0.2 million to K 1.5 million. Depending on the calculations made by the jeweller for the customer, the specific day and time to start the setting differs. Whatever the date to start the setting may be, the ruby has to be set on a Sunday, pearl and cat’s eye on Monday, coral on Tuesday, emerald and zircon on Wednesday, topaz on Thursday, diamond on Friday and the sapphire is set on Saturday. Before the setting commences, a gadaw bwe, a decoratively arranged offertory consisting of hands of bananas and coconut, is offered to the Lord Buddha. “Guidelines for the systematic cutting, setting and wearing of the ring need to be closely followed,” U Than Maung said.

The goldsmith must wear a white suit and keep at least five precepts during the making of the ring. The ruby (glory) is traditionally placed in the centre surrounded by the eight other gems, representing the eight planets known in ancient times (see diagram right). The sapphire must be placed in the north, diamond in the east, cat’s eye in the south, emerald in the west, coral must be placed in the north east, pearl in the south east, zircon in the south west and topaz in the north west. The gross structure is as follows: After setting is completed and the ring is ready to be worn, another gadaw bwe is offered to the nats before handing over the ring to the owner.

The ring must be then worn correctly. The emerald is kept as close to one’s side as possible and the diamond as far away as possible for the wearer to receive the cooling and calming effect of the diamond. A diamond’s iridescent rays, like arrowheads, are believed to possess the power of withstanding or warding off danger. The Narawat ring is then ready to bring greater wealth, power and glory for those who treasure it and believe in its power.

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