Throughout the history, Sri Lanka has been known as a land of gems. Today Sri Lankan gems are most popular goods among the Tourists. Tourists who visit to Sri Lanka they are willing to buy Sri Lankan gems and jewelers. The main gemstone species found in Sri Lanka are Blue Sapphire, Ruby, Padparadscha, Yellow Sapphire, Asteriated Sapphires (Star Sapphires), Alexandrite, Spinel, Tourmaline, Beryl, Quartz, Moonstone etc. Sri Lanka has nearly 75-80 Colored Gemstone varieties literally making it the Treasure Island. The prominent gem mining areas in Sri Lanka are Ratnapura, Balangoda, and Elahera. The most commonly used Gemstone mining method in Sri Lanka is Pit-Head Mining and Tunneling. Surface Placer Mining and River Bed Dredging are the other methods used widely.
The history of the gems industry dates back to about 3000 years ago. According to the great Sri Lankan chronicle Mahavamsa, Ceylon was known as ‘Ratna Deepa’ in Sanskrit, meaning ‘the island of jewels’. Its soils, rich in minerals, have been yielding an amazingly continuous supply of premium quality precious and semi-precious gem stones. Ratnapura (translating to ‘city of gems’ in Sinhalese) owns a significantly wide range of gemstones, many of which are outstanding in clarity when compared to stones from other areas.Apart from producing these precious gems, the Sri Lankan gem industry has also been specializin in the process of mining, cutting and polishing for many centuries. Because Sri Lankans have an extensive knowledge on the types of gems and how they should be cut, each stone that is found and prepared for the foreign market is finely cut and polished before exported. Ceylon Moors, descendants of the Arabians are those who are largely responsible for the gem industry in Sri Lanka. This is because the Arabs undertook rich trading – the ability to speak a variety of languages and the wealth to travel across the globe in search of commercially valuable items.
After the end of the civil war nearly a decade ago, Sri Lanka has been showing excellent growth in the service, industrial and agricultural sectors. With regard to the gem industry, regulations pertaining to mining and exports of gems have relaxed, thereby resulting in growth of the industry itself.
Gem varieties available in Sri Lanka
Since the early times of gem production, some off the common gemstones produced in Ceylon are:
- Cat’s eye
- Star sapphire
The Blue Sapphire is one of the most supreme gems that Sri Lanka is renowned for. Some of the finest blue sapphires in the world are found here, one of which was gifted to Princess Diana by Prince Charles! Being second to diamond in hardness, this premium stone is amongst the highly prized of all gems.
Did you know?
- The world’s largest sapphire – weighing 42 pounds, was found in the gravels of Sri Lanka.
- A British millionaire purchased from Sri Lanka the following:
- Blue Giant, weighing 500 carats
- Blue Belle of Asia, weighing 400 carats