Gems of Sri Lanka: A Glistening History

Sri Lankans, from ancient times, have been long known to be adorned with gems and jewels which were of much value. This goes to prove how much this land was famed for these precious minerals.

The gem industry in Sri Lanka has a long history. It is one of the reasons the island was also known as “Ratna-Dweepa” which literally translates to “the island of gems”. Many renowned personnel had given high regard to the gems found in Sri Lanka. Amongst these personnel are Marco Polo who labelled Sri Lank as having some of the best gems from around the world. Eastern and Arabian traders have known to have sailed across the Indian Ocean to trade these precious stones from the island to the East, back in the 4th century.

The main species of gemstones found in Sri Lanka are Blue Sapphire, Ruby, Yellow Sapphire, Star Sapphire, Alexandrite, Padparadscha, Tourmaline, Beryl, Moonstone, Quartz and Spinel. Among these, Sri Lanka is renowned as the top source for exquisite sapphires to the global market. The Blue Sapphire, which is also known as Ceylon Sapphire, is a gem which is unique in colour, luster and clarity when compared to these gemstones found in other countries.  The country is known to be one of the largest gem producers of the world.

The regions of Ratnapura has the highest density of gem deposits it the country. “Ratnapura” literally translates to the “city of gems”, a name to which it stands true. Some of the main attractions related to these precious stones in this area are the gem factory, gem mine and gem museum. These are must visit places during a tour to Ratnapura.

The gems of Sri Lanka have crossed oceans and seas to now lay in the hands of prominent figures from around the world. The most significant out of these jewels is the 12 carat oval shaped Royal Blue Sapphire which sits on the engagement ring of Princess Kate Middleton. It was initially made for Princess Diana for her engagement with Prince Charles. Other notary gems from Sri Lanka which have travelled the globe are as follows;

  • Giant of the Orient
  • Logan Blue Sapphire
  • Blue Bella of Asia
  • Star of Lanka
  • Pride of Sri Lanka
  • Grayish Blue Star of India
  • Naleem Alexandrite
  • Rosser Reeves Star Ruby
  • Black Prince Ruby
  • British Royal Jewel
  • Empress Maria’s Sapphire
  • Bismark Sapphire
  • The Eye of the Lion
  • The Star of Artban
  • Star of Bombay
  • Midnight Star Sapphire
  • Ray of Treasure
  • Maharani Cat’s Eye
  • Timur Ruby
  • Star of Adam

Sri Lanka is truly a remarkable country with a colourful and long history of gems. It still continues up to this day, and many tourists from various regions come to the island to purchase some of the best gems which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

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