From time immemorial, Sri Lanka has had a sparkling reputation for highly treasured gems.
Sri Lanka’s mineral rich soils have been yielding a seemingly
never ending supply of high quality precious and semi precious gems stones
such as Sapphires, Star Sapphires, Rubies, Star Rubies, Alexandrites, Cat’s eyes, Garnets, Zircons,
Tourmalines and Spinels.
The gem industry in Sri Lanka is of great antiquity.
Reference is made in the Scriptures to gems being brought from
Ceylon to the Court of King Solomon. It is also said that ages ago Arab adventurers
came to Ceylon in search of gems.
The Mahavansa, the great historical chronicle of Ceylon,
refers to the singular reputation of this Island for its wealth in gems.
It is an accepted fact that Sri Lanka is one of the largest sources
of some of the finest gemstones in the world.
A few of the priceless treasures whose origins
are traceable to Sri Lanka are the Blue Giant of Orient (466 cts)
Logan Blue Sapphire (423 cts), Blue Belle of Asia (400 cts),
Rosser Reeves Star Ruby (138 cts) and Star of Lanka (393 cts)
and the Ray of Treasure (105 cts Cat’s Eye).
The Star of Lanka and Ray of Treasure are in the proud
possession of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority.
Even the very names bestowed upon Sri Lanka,
throughout the centuries echo the riches contained within its soil.
Others believe that the name given to the Island by Marco Polo,
Seilan, is derived from the word sila, which means a rock,
possibly in reference to its abundant wealth in minerals.
Sri Lanka ranks with Brazil, South Africa, Myanmar and Thailand
as one of the five most important gem bearing nations of the world.
Sri Lanka has been a virtual treasure trove of gems that
have been much sought after as gifts for royalty
form the Queen of Sheba to Princess Diana.
Of the country’s many treasures, none is as beautiful as the sapphire.
Sapphires belong to the corundum family,
which gives Sri Lanka two of its most valuable gemstones, rubies and sapphires.
Blue Sapphires from Sri Lanka boast of one of the most prized
colors in the world, the famous cornflower blue.
Sri Lanka Sapphires tend to be brighter and are renowned for their transparency,
superb clarity and vivid lustre. Many of the finest specimens
of Sapphires in the world’s top gemstone
collections have come from Sri Lanka.
The “Blue Sapphire” was declared as the “National Gem Stone of Sri Lanka” in 2003.
Flawless, transparent blue sapphires of deep blue color are highly priced.
Sri Lanka is the largest supplier of top quality,
large blue sapphires of the natural color to the world.
Spectacular recent discoveries of Blue Sapphires in Sri Lanka include;
A 850 carat Blue Sapphire found at Hakamuwa (Ratnapura District)
A massive 8042 carat stone found in a gem pit at Pelmaddulla.
A fine blue sapphire weighing 2516 carats found at Ellawala.
Another blue sapphire weighing 4002 carats found at Neelagama.
A 250 carat blue sapphire of deep blue color found at Ganegama in Pelmaddulla.
Sapphires are the transparent gem variety of the mineral family corundum,
second only to the Diamond in hardness.
Blue may be the most sought after color but the sapphires
also come in yellow, white, green, pink, orange and purple.
Any non-red corundum is called a Sapphire. The red variety, of course, is the ruby.
An enticing array of sapphires were displayed at
FACETS SRI LANKA – 2005, the 15th Sri Lanka International Gem & Jewellery
Show held between 31st August and 3rd September 2005,
at the BMICH Exhibition and Convention Centre in Colombo.