Sri Lanka Gems on Stamps
Sri Lanka with a Gem mining history of over 2500 years, has throughout the centuries been known as Island of Gems and "Ratnadveepa". This land called "Mani Vayiru" in tamil meaning one having Gems in her womb. It has been estimated that nearly nine tenths of the island is capable of yielding gems. Most of the world famous fien blue sapphires came and coming only from Sri Lanka. Most of the Sapphires in museum collections around the world are from the gravels of Sri Lanka.
Publicity about the gems through our countrys stamps worldwide has to be considered very useful. Although we had a number of varieties of gems we have depicted only five gemstones on stamps. Four of them belong to the Corundum family. First four stamps were issued in 1976.
Out of these four, three stones are from the Corundum family. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the National Gem & Jewelry Authority Act, Blue Sapphire was declared as the National Gemstone of Sri Lanka. Philatelic Bureau of Department of posts issued a new Postage Stamp in the denomination of Rs. 4.50 on 21st October 2003. Sri Lanka had been the first and the foremost production centre for the natural Corundum stones from the time immemorial.
Corundum is the crystalline form of aluminum Oxide. It has different colors when impurities are present. Pure corundum is colorless often called white Sapphire. Chromic oxide causes brilliant red, called Rubies. The name Ruby is derived from the Latin word "RUBENS" meaning "red". Titanium Oxide produces vivid blue Sri Lankan Sapphires which are universally renowned for their magnificent quality and large sizes. Star Sapphire which cut in cabochon style displays a six rayed star on top of the cabochon surface. The biggest of all the Star Sapphires which have been cut & polished, is the Star of India 563 Carats. Though it is called Star of India, it was actually found in Sri Lanka. Star of Lanka 393 carats stone has a reputation of being the third largest Star Sapphire of similar quality in existance, which is a deep blue stone having a prominent start effect. This is owned by the National Gem & Jewelry Authority of Sri Lanka.
Chrysoberyl is a Yellowish Green, transparent to translucent cymophane which is popularly known as catseye. This variety exhibits pleasing chatoyancy that reminds one of an eye of a cat. When cut to produce a cabochon, the mineral forms a light green specimen with silky band of light extending across the surface of the stone.