UPDATE 1-Italian jeweller Bulgari boycotts Myanmar gems

Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:33pm EDT

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MILAN Oct 11 (Reuters) - Italy's Bulgari BULG.MI added its name to the list of jewellers boycotting gems from Myanmar after a crackdown by the country's military rulers on pro-democracy protestors.

The world's third largest jeweller said on Thursday it had told its suppliers to declare the origin of the stones they provide, adding it had stopped buying stones mined in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, "some time ago".

"Even though the company has never bought gems directly in Myanmar but only on the international markets, it has expressly required (from) its suppliers guarantees of the geographical origin of the precious stone," Bulgari said in a statement.

The move by the Rome-based jeweller comes after the 27 states of the European Union decided this month to toughen existing sanctions against Myanmar and look at import and investment bans on key industrial sectors, including gemstones.

The sanctions are due to be discussed by EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

Bulgari's announcement follows one by Cartier, owned by Richemont (CFR.VX), which said it had stopped buying gemstones such as rubies and sapphires which may have been mined in Myanmar and told its suppliers to confirm stones are not mined there.

Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) stopped buying rubies from Myanmar in 2003 when the U.S. Congress enacted an import ban. The ban includes a loophole that allows dealers to import gems from Myanmar if they were cut and polished somewhere else.

Last month, Myanmar's military rulers sent in soldiers to end the biggest pro-democracy protests in nearly 20 years, rounding up and arresting scores of people. Official media say 10 people died in the crackdown, although Western governments say the toll could be higher.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian in Milan and David Brunnstrom in Brussels)

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