The gems of beauty in Sri Lanka
“I want you to understand that the island of Ceylon is for its size the finest island in the world, and from its streams comes Rubies, Sapphires, Topazes, and Amethyst and Garnet.”
Marco Polo – 1292 AD
I recently had a business trip to S.E Asia and the fortune to visit the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is historically and culturally intertwined with the Indian subcontinent, but is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. It has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC.
Endless sunrises, sunsets, beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food make Sri Lanka irresistible.
But these are only some of the characteristics, as I was fortunate to find out when I met Rauf Abdul and Ishan Rox from The Jewel Court in Bentota.
With a huge smile and a welcome warmth Rauf greeted me with ‘Ayubowan Geoff’, I was inquisitive to learn more about what Rauf and Ishan had to tell me about the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and one of the largest precious stone collections in the world.
So, Rauf and Ishan, what can you tell me about Sri Lanka and the precious stones that has made this beautiful island a world leader in gemstones?
‘Bohoma Istuti Geoff’ (Thank you very much Geoff), historically from the Ancient times Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) has gained a very good popularity and good name for the world famous and rare and precious and semi-precious naturally formed supernatural gems. The great chronicle of Ceylon Mahavamsa too mentioned about the valuable gem and jewelleries of Ceylon. Of course, from the time immemorial a separate group of people especially skilled craftsmen have had well trained in the creation of enchanting mater pieces and beautifully hand-made gem studded jewelleries and ornaments specially for Queens and Kings of the Sinhala and of the different kingdoms of Lanka.
King Solomon was also reported to have had brought valuable gems from the island of gems at that time (Ceylon) (Ratna-Deepa) literally means island of gems to win the heart of the beautiful queens. Ratnapura located at 103km from the metropolis capital city of Columbo is the famous traditional gem mining town of Ceylon. Ratnapura is also literally means the city of gems. Sri Lanka has the greatest concentration of gems on the Earth and Sri Lanka has been ranked among rh five gem bearing nations. One can find different varieties of precious and semi-precious and some of the rarest and expensive gems in Ratnapura, are found in abundance in blessed city. Gem mining is also one of the natural resources.
Ratnapura is very popular and famous for gems and specially well known for magnificent sapphires of different colours natural corundum’s in white, yellow, pink, orange, purple, alexandrite and padmaraga, king of the gemstones star-sapphire and star ruby are actually different colours of the same mineral (corundum). But while rubies are always red, sapphires come in varieties of colours. Sapphire is a cold gem with the same hardness and specified gravity as those rubies. The best blue-sapphire does not change its colour when held upfront of an electric light.
Diamond is the hardest and most dazzling jewel in the world. The hardness of diamond is (10 density) and the hardness of sapphires and rubies are (09 density). The blue sapphire stone has the power to enhance the status of an individual who is in possession of a blue sapphire gem. There is a common belief that the sapphires are beneficiaries to kings, queens, princes, princesses, administrators’, political leaders and the hearts of the government for the protection and safety. Unlike other stones, sapphires prized for their clarity, carat weight and masterfully cut shaped, lustre and beauty. As for carats the natural royal blue colour magnificent blue sapphire can easily cost more than twice as much as one carat.
Blue sapphire is the stone of the kings, queens, princes, princesses, head of the government, intellectuals, dignitaries-business magnates, wealthy and respectable people. Blue sapphires make the way for luxurious joyful royal life and happiness. Blue sapphire is a valuable gem net to the hardest gem in the world you can cut glass with a point of diamond but of course you can scratch glass with a point of blue sapphire gem. Blue sapphires are naturally formed super natural gem always seen in the island of gems. It is obvious among the different colours of sapphire available in the gem trade. Indeed, royal blue, corn-flower blue, medium blue, lighter blue is generally the best colour and has been accepted and recommended by the international gem and jewellery trade.
Historically many coloured gemstones are born natural, means the stones are genuine and natural have been enhanced to improve their appearance. Thermal enhancement of rubies and sapphires is considered stable and permanent under the normal wear and handling conditions and it is generally accepted and recommended by the international gem and jewellery trade.
White sapphire resembles same as the diamond, the most dazzling jewel in the world. White sapphire has the lustre, beauty and the same hardness as the different colours of sapphires. Any person can imitate and pretend a white sapphire is a diamond. White sapphire is also a valuable gem with sheen and lustre like a diamond.
Star sapphire is a miraculous and wonderful stone. It is a blessed stone to Sri Lanka, because it is the wonder of asia found only in Sri Lanka. It is a natural formation available in the popular and famous traditional gem mining town of Sri Lanka precious and semiprecious stones and different colour gems can be seen in and around the city. Star sapphire is a re gem and an amazing jewel because no one is capable of inserting the star into the stone. It is a natural formation naturally formed supernatural gem star sapphire is the stone of destiny in which three crossed lines intersect in the centre of the stone symbolising faith, destiny and hope. Star sapphire brings one’s good fortune, fame, wealth, longevity and popularity. It is a very rare gem. Star sapphires always comes in blue and slightly blackish blue in colour.
An expensive and gorgeous gold ring set with a huge natural blue sapphire gem (natural corundum) colour royal blue, double cluster set with VVS1 (VVS1 is actually immaculate) diamonds around, which was gifted to princess Diana at the Royal wedding function took place at Buckingham Palace by our former president. Britain’s Prince William married Kate Middleton in April, a ring set with the same stone previously worn by Princess Diana originated in Sri Lanka which was gifted to Princess Kate Middleton by Her Majesty.
The best-known fact that Sri Lanka was called as Ceylon in the ancient times Ceylon was very popular and famous for magnificent natural blue sapphires. Whenever an Englishman come to Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) who never missed the opportunity of buying at least a piece of precious blue sapphire gem. It promises wealth, name of fame, joy, love and happiness to the wearer. It increases once’s good fortune, fame, health and wealth, longevity and popularity, peace, patience and tranquillity. It helps reach a high level and will always triumph. This is a well-known fact of a person who is in possession of a blue sapphire gem ensures a very long energetic life with dignity and inspires love and faithfulness and harmonious. There is a common belief that the precious gems have magnetic powers in varying degrees and have the curative and healing power to cure many illnesses unlike other gems, blue sapphires are prized for their clarity, weight, cut and lustre is more valuable.
Yellow Sapphire is also one of the different colours of sapphires found in the world. Known very popular traditionally manual gem mining old town of Ratnapura. Ratnapura literally means City of Gems. Ratna is the gem and pura is the city. It is also a natural formation same as other different colours of sapphires. Yellow Sapphire is a very famous and familiar gem among the Indian people. It is obvious that, on the advice and the guidance of the Sage (Samy) most of the Indians used to adore a ring set with a yellow sapphire gem. Because the yellow sapphire gem has the magnetic power to increase good health, wealth, longevity and popularity. It brings good fortune, and protects and safeguards from evil effects and spirits.
Indian people of course call the yellow sapphire gem as Pushparagam. Literally mean ‘Passion of Flower’. It flowers life of the person who is in possession of a yellow sapphire. Indeed, he is a very lucky and fortunate human in the world. Try to be a proud owner of a ring set with a yellow-sapphire gem and feel the benefit and enjoy fortunes and experience the difference. Yellow Sapphire is an enchanting gem with beautiful lustre and attraction.
Ruby is a gem of various shades of red corundum, generally some stones are hot pink, some are blackish red, and some are pale coloured. Of course, it is a hot stone and most valued among precious stones. Most of the rubies are translucent and suitable to wear due to the wide range of colour and hardness. Ruby is an enchanting gem.
A flawless ruby is smooth and having a attractive lustre, brilliance and radiance and a rich red-colour. Rubies are very costly because of the scarcity. A large ruby is rare and very expensive than a large diamond. The rarest and most expensive shade is described as being the colour of pigeons blood a rich velvety deep red, but without fire or sparkle. A few people only prefer the red ruby. It brings wealth and leads a prosperous and joyful life and popularity. The person who is in possession of a ruby is a blessed and always triumph in his life. It activates and vitalises the whole body through the circulation of blood. Ruby will make on with courage of determined, cheerful, active, ambitious and successfully blessed with sterling qualities. Ruby is generally an enchanting gem to win the heart.
Star ruby is also a very rare gem rarely come to the hands of fortunate gem merchants. Of course, the Star Ruby is also a wonderful gem. It is also naturally formed, supernatural gem found in the famous and very popular traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. It is also the wonder of Asia. As mentioned before, Star Ruby is the stone of destiny. Same as the Star Sapphire three crossed lines intersect in the centre of the stone. Symbolized the heart of spiritual love and devotion.
It is also a natural creation of nature. A blessed stone rarely available in Ratnapura and found only in Sri Lanka. The Star Ruby paves the way for achievement of goals and betterment in life. No one is capable of inserting a three crossed-line star into the stone. It is truly a naturally formed wonderful creation of nature.
Cat’s Eye is a wonderful and rare gem. It is a blessed stone, naturally formed a super natural gem found only in the traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. It is a hard gem belonging to semi-precious and transparent variety of quartz because of the rare gem much valued in the gem trade. It is a hot stone and appearance opalescent available in various shades, ranging from a cloudy yellow to brownish green colour. The pure variety has a yellowish radiance and white brilliant straight band. It is a miraculous and vary rare gem. Only a few people whoa re blessed to be the proud owner of the naturally formed supernatural and amazing gem in the world of a person who is in possession of a cat’s eye brings success and prosperity, longevity and happiness in the life. Cat’s eye is a very rare gem extremely unique gem remarkably resembles same as an eye of a cat is called cat’s eye.
Zircon is also a rare variety of gem rarely found in the traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. Means literally the city of gems. Yes of course it brings success and prosperity. It ensures good health, wealth, safeguards one from enemies and criticism. It is naturally colourless, reddish orange, brownish red, grey, violet-grey or green. A very good stone reflects a golden colour, when seen from a distance. It is transparent, soft to the touch, lustrous and ample radiance. Zircon is also a very rare gem.
Padmaraga is the King of the precious and semi-precious gem. It is also a wonderful stone in the world, a blessed gem very rarely come across to the gem dealers’ hands. It is also found in the old traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. Padmaraga is a very beautiful and enchanting gem-like florescence of blossomed flowers. It is also a very rare, expensive and unique gem.
Topaz is also a naturally formed beautiful gem. Adequality available here in Sri Lanka in different colours. Topaz is transparent mineral gem being a silicate and fluoride of aluminium and generally found in rocks. It is a cold gem occurring naturally in a prismatic form and also found in yellow colour, pink and blue shades. The jewelleries settled with blue topaz are beautiful has an enchanting power to attract the teenagers. Of course, it is a very beautiful gem.
Aqua Marine means sea water. The finest beryl and is called so because of its bluish, sea green, bluish green tint and it is transparent. It is also a very rare gem found rarely come across to the hand of gem dealers. It is also a valuable gem found in Ratnapura.
Amethyst also a violet variety of quarts is used as a gem containing traces of manganese titanium and iron found in the gem mining area. It is a very beautiful stone and gives more appearance of sets in the enchanting design of jewelleries. Amethyst is an attractive gem also found in Sri Lanka.
Garnet is a hard-vitreous silicate mineral occurring in a number of varieties. It is also a natural stone found in the popular traditional mining town in Sri Lanka. It is a very familiar gem common deep red colour and transparent. It belongs to the Capricornian garnets are available in different varieties namely rhodolite garnet, hessonite garnet, spessartile garnet and alamandine garnet. Most of the people knows about the garnet it is an internationally well-known gem.
Alexandrite is a blessed gem. Very rarely found and seen in the traditional mineral mining town of Ratnapura. For popularly famous for rare and unique gems. Alexandrite is also a very rare and wonderful gem. Also naturally formed supernatural gem. Alexandrite was discovered on the day King Czar Alexander was born. It shines green in the natural day light and turns raspberry red in the artificial light. Of course, it is a very rare and very expensive gem found only in Sri Lanka.
Moonstone was the first stone discovered about one hundred and fifty years ago in an alluvial mine located in an old village called Meetiyagoda in the Southern Province (Galle District). The employees who engaged in the mining used their own traditional system with the support of the poles and planks to go down about twenty or twenty-five metres or sometimes further down. It was very dangerous because always the alluvial floor is liable to collapse at any moment. Nowadays we use advanced scaffolding system to go down further with the support of planks is safer.
Moonstone is always a translucent variety of feldspar with a pearly lustre. Once it is cut and polished having a glistening white, brilliant straight band inside, which rolls with the turn of the stone. Moonstone is a very famous and familiar gem among the Germans. The Germans believe that Moonstone has the magnetic power to give good health, wealth, longevity and specially popularity. Moonstone brings good fortune, protects and safeguards from dangerous diseases and evil effects. When a German visits to Sri Lanka, never misses an opportunity of buying a piece of moonstone available in the island of paradise and the pearl of the South East Asia.
This is a gem of rich variety of beryl and the colour is due to the presence of chronium oxide. It is a hot gem and one of the expensive gemstones in the world. The lush intense green colour of the emerald is associated with wisdom, fertility and life. It is also instilling divine quality through the power and beauty of its ray. It is a symbol of regeneration and life flowers with creative and artistic abilities while energising and replenishing. It has the magnetic power for calming. Its rays always help in healing and balancing and providing with a tranquil and a serene state of mind. It increases one’s intelligence, farsighted vision. Commonly people will think of having an emerald gem will help to preserve the chastity and protect from evil spirits. Of course, it is a sure cure for stammering, ensures wealth, popularity and prosperity.
The world famous and very popular Cleopatra is most desirous and willingly adored gem was the emerald. She always adorned some of the enchanting jewelleries set with valuable emerald gems.
It is a well-known fact in the world. The gem emerald protects from evil effects, ill eye and specially from venomous snake bites. A flawless emerald is smooth and transparent and has a radiance brilliance. It is also a rare and unique gem in the world.
As old as civilization itself the Sri Lankan Gem Industry currently ranks with those of Myanmar, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand as one of the world’s most prominent gem-bearing nations. Swathed in the myth, legend, religion and the occult of Sri Lanka, gemstones, precious and semi-precious, have enriched the island’s economy, culture and reputation since about the year 543 BC.
Gemstone mining in Sri Lanka is mostly from secondary deposits. The gravels yield sapphires, rubies, cat’s eyes and other chrysoberyls, spinels, garnets, beryl, tourmalines, topazes, quartz and many other gemstones. In Sri Lanka, gem-bearing gravels known as illam are some of the richest in the world. Blessed with geological conditionsmade up of the ideal blend of chemistry, heat, pressure, time and weathering, the island is a veritable nature-made gem laboratory. Besides the well-known Pangaea, which existed about 300 million years ago, there were several other supercontinents in the Earth’s early history, their assembly and break up cycle helped form most of the world’s gem deposits. A number of these cycles are linked to the formation of gems in Sri Lanka. Most of the country’s gem deposits are in an area known as the Highland Complex, extending northeast to southwest and containing high-grade metamorphic rocks.
Sri Lanka boasts a true mine-to-market industry, both domestically and for export. A fascinating aspect of this is the harmonious and productive blend of tradition, experience and modernization. Mining is done primarily by use of traditional methods, and is small-scale by choice and design as such mines are considered to be less harmful to the environment and a more stable source of employment for more people. Pit, river and mechanized are the three types of mining practiced in Sri Lanka. Manual labor is the primary method used in mining. The National Gem and Jewelry Authority is the regulatory body responsible for the issuance of mining licenses and ensures that all related processes are conducted according to the set standards and rules. The NGJA is particularly strict when it comes to the requirements for mechanized mining. This strategy fortifies the continuous employment of 60,000 to 70,000 gem miners.
Such a fascinating set of historical facts and truly these semi-precious and precious stones are simply stunning.
It is clear that there is a long and rich history of producing and trading precious gems within the eastern world. Looking through historical and fictional writing, it is easy to establish the longstanding connection of Sri Lanka to the gem industry.
If you have any questions or if you would like to know more about the gems available through Jewel Court, do contact Rauf and Ishan on the following email address:
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