GEMS OF SRI LANKA






Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a long and colorful history.  Sri Lanka which was formerly known as Ceylon was called Rathna Deepa which means Gem Island in native Sinhala language. Marco Polo the famous ancient Italian merchant traveler who lived from.1254 to 1324 wrote that island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems of the world.

Sri Lanka geologically speaking is an old country which has a recorded history of over 2500 years. In Sri Lanka, gems form in sedimentary residual gem deposits. The residual deposits are mainly found in flood plains of rivers and streams.

Some of the rarest precious stones in the world are found in abundance in the reach earth under our feet and the hills above us. Among the several world famous gems of Sri Lanka is the blue sapphire Weighing 466 carats. The largest known sapphire in the world weighing in at 19kg was also discovered here. Other famous gems include the Blue giant of the Orient, Weighing nearly 500 carats and the bluebell of Asia, which weighs in at 400 carats

Blue Sapphires
The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka are known as Ceylon Sapphire. Ceylon Sapphires are said to be unique in color, clarity and luster compared to blue sapphires from other countries. Throughout history Sri Lanka was known as a land of gems. King Solomon of the old ages was said to have procured a great ruby for the Queen Sheba, from Ceylon. The Blue Sapphire is the king of Gems. 400 carat Blue Sapphire called “Blue Belle” which adorns the British Crown, is from Sri Lanka. The beautiful star sapphire   misnamed the “Star of India” is displayed at the New York’s museum of Natural History.
Besides rubies and sapphires, Sri Lanka also bears cat’s eyes, alexandrite, aquamarines, tourmalines, topaz, garnets, amethysts and variety of other stones.


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Sri Lanka was known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean lives up to its nickname as a hotbed for a variety of gems. Sri Lanka is home to 40 varieties of Gems out of 85 varieties available in the whole world.
The gem and jewelry industry has been an important part of Sri Lanka’s economy for well over two centuries and remains so even today, and is likely to remain so into the foreseeable future. The majority of economic activity in the industry falls within 3 main sectors, mining, manufacturing and trading. There are four main trading oriented activities which are gem dealing (wholesale), importing, exporting and retailing.

Gem Mining
The process of mining for gems is begun at an auspicious time with a short religious ritual. The most common methods of mining are in pits and by tunneling. Surface gemming and dredging depends on the location and the type of deposits stones are normally found in a layer of coarse pebbly material, which contains traces of clay and fine sand. This gravel containing gems is referred to as “illam”. Mining on the island of Sri Lanka goes back at least 2000 years.
                                  Sri Lanka Gem Fields


 The main gem bearing area of Sri Lanka which has been known for centuries comprises a serious of parallel hill ranges separated by longitudinal valleys and situated in the Sabaragamuwa province. To date, the main gemming fields in the Island are confined to this area which covers nearly 1500 sq. km. The neighbourhood Avissawella, Ratnapura, Rakwana and Balangoda has undoubtedly supported the most actively worked gem pits in the Island for a number of decades.

The State Gem Corporation
The State Gem Corporation plays a vital role in the development of the gem industry of the island. It annually holds courses in gem identification and lapidary training.

Among the basic operations of the corporations are the testing of gems for genuineness, Certification and assaying of jewelry to determine the gold content or cartage of the items. The spectrum of activity of this institution ranges from the mining stage, through cutting and polishing to selling the finished product, which of course includes exports.

It is situated in Colombo; the exchange provides all facilities related to the gem industry, under one roof. It is the 21st Exchange of its kind in the world and houses stalls for retail and wholesale business customs office, and a museum.


Tags; gems of Sri Lanka, sri lanka, blue sapphires, gem mining