MYANMAR may be
particularly gem-obsessed these days, but the love of
things spans cultures worldwide.
Ma Soe Nan Thi's She Shines shop is an international shrine
to precious stones and fine jewellery. Designed by Chinese
architects, manned by Thai jewellers and featuring styles
from Malaysia, Hong Kong and else-where, the shop merges the
best of Mogok with a sense of global fashion.
She Shines opened in Bahan township in Yangon just two
months ago, but the shop has been 16 years in the making. Ma
Soe Nan Thi has been studying gems since she was in eighth
standard, when her parents hired a private tutor to teach
her the basics of gemology.
She received a diploma from Yangon University and has since
undertaken an independent study of both the international
gem market and the precious stones themselves, The
30-year-old designer has visited jade mines in Myanmar,
jewellery shops in Hong Kong and silversmiths in Thailand,
Recently, she traveled to Mogok, Myanmar's premier city for
raw rubies, and saw the region's mines.
" Accompanied by some teachers, I hung around the mines to
learn how to determine the quality of jewels and bargain the
prices," she said.
"I also visited some countries in Asia like Hong Kong,
Malaysia and Thailand to learn about the jewel markets and
assess which jewels were most popular in each country."
Ma Soe Nan Thi says her travels have provided inspiration
for her designs, for which she uses gems from Mogok in
Mandalay Division and Mong Hsu in southern Shan State. More
than 1000 pieces are on display at She Shines, all designed
by either Ma Soe Nan Thi herself or one of three Hong Kong
trained designers she employs. Prices reflect the shop's
high standards, ranging from K100,000 to K50 million. A
staff of 35 mans the factory, office and showroom, including
the 10 Thai silversmiths Ma Soe Nan Thi has employed to help
set up shop.
Ma Soe Nan Thi says business has been decent for the past
six weeks, but as she looks to the future she holds higher
expectations. She says she wants to put more emphasis on the
foreign market and introduce a wider range of gems and
"Recently, the condition of the jewel market has been quite
cold in line with the economic situation here, hut once the
tourism industry grows, there will be more tourists looking
for Myanmar-made jade and rubies," she said.
With her dream shop finally opened, the jeweller has no
intention of slowing down.
"We're planning to open an other shop in two year's time,"