“What they want now is not only to export raw materials, but also to process jade domestically and sell it to China,” said Li Lianju, a deputy director of Yunnan Land and Resource Department, who oversees the jade trade between Myanmar and China’s Yunnan Province, a major commercial hub for the gemstone.
“The value of raw jade rises more than 20-fold after being carved and turned into rings, bangles or necklaces,” said Zu Engdong, head of Gemology at Kunming University of Science and Technology in Yunnan.
“So it makes full sense for the Myanmarese to process jade themselves,” he said.
Some fear Myanmar will close the jade mines altogether or slow down production to protect jade sources. Fighting in Kachin State may also have affected jade mining.
What is certain is that prices for those buying raw high-grade jade are astronomical, trickling down to merchants who are upping prices to maintain their profit margin.