16 Oct 2018
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The Treasure Island
Sri Lanka
By: Diamond World News Service
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Aug 20 2018 5:04PM
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Reference: 16594  

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Sri Lanka is one of the most popular sources of fine quality gemstones. From following traditional methods be it lapidary or jewellery making, to using the latest technology in the business, Sri Lankan gems and jewellery industry has come a long way.

Sri Lanka is known for its gemstones unique in quality and variety for over 2,500 years. It was affectionately known as ‘Ratna-Dweepa’, meaning Gem Island. The name is a reflection of its natural wealth. Marco Polo wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world while Ptolemy, the 2nd century astronomer, recorded that beryl and sapphire were the mainstays of Sri Lanka’s gem industry.

The rarest and the most valuable gems are found in this country. The gem selling industry is widespread here to meet the local and international demand for gems.

According to the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) statistics, Sri Lanka exported gold jewellery and gems worth Rs. 2.33 billion in 2017. However, according Gem and Jewellery exporters, foreign exchange earnings from jewellery and gem sales to tourists are much higher, amounting approximately US$100 million annually.

Sri Lanka’s gem industry, for which sapphire is the main export, is worth at least £70m ($103m) annually.According to Industry Capability Report of Export (2013) Development Board of Sri Lanka, there are around 300 exporters of gems, and jewellery which fall under the categories of large, medium and small. Most of the exporters are SMEs and they are scattered across the country.

Island of Gemstones
Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon or Serendib) has a heritage for gem mining and trading that dates back to 2000 years. Precious and enticing range of blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, star rubies, alexandrites, cat’s eyes, garnets, zircons, tourmalines and spinels of unsurpassed quality and quantities have been delivered consistently from this island nation.

Gem deposits in Sri Lanka can be categorized into three main groups - Residual deposits – Okkampiiya; Elluvial deposits – Elahera and; Alluvial deposits – Ratnapura. The dominant gem mineral is corundum, specially the great varieties of sapphires, rubies and geuda. Majority of the gem deposits are secondary alluvial gravels and contain a range of gem minerals with local and regional variations in relative abundance.

Amongst the exceptional gemstones that Sri Lanka has produced in the contemporary era are the Blue Giant of the Orient (466-carats), Logan Blue Sapphire (423-carats), Blue Belle of Asia (400-carats), Rossar Reeves Star Ruby (138.7-carats), Star of Lanka (393-carats Star Sapphire) Ray of Treasure (105-carats Cat’s Eye). The first three gemstones are on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, USA.

Blue Sapphire
Blue Sapphire found in Sri Lanka is known for its beauty and for being one of the few sapphires in the world that can be sold as a completely natural stone without heat treatment. Sri Lankan sapphires also come in beautiful hues including pink, yellow,orange, green, purple, lavender and of course, the inimitable padparadscha sapphire which was named after the lotus. All these highly marketable qualities of blue sapphires have created a brand recognition for the stones worldwide.

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