Sri Lanka is unanimously known for its precious and semi-precious stones. It is no coincidence that King Solomon acquired a magnificent Ruby for Queen Sheba. The soil of Sri Lanka is rich with texture and natural resources to make for gem rearing.
Location for famous Gems in Sri Lanka
The majour gem mining locations are in Ratnapura and Rakwana which is located in Saburagama province. Gem mining has been ongoing in these areas for centuries. Additionally gem mining activity has been present in the Uva Province more specifically in Okkampitiya and Buttala, further mining work is done more recently in the Matale district of the Central province of the country, this proves to show that gem mining areas are not constrained to the conventional areas of the south west sector of the island which makes for prolific gravel properties. The route which can be followed to explore the gem sites can be compiled accordingly.
Ratnapura: City of Gems
Many years later, the engagement ring presented by Prince Charles to Princess Diana was one with a unique blue sapphire from Sri Lanka. The gem mining trade in Sri Lanka dates back nearly 2500 years to the time of the ancient kings and have been chronicled in the 'Mahavamsa', a historical record of Sri Lanka dating back to the founders of this country.
Translating into the 'City of Gems', Ratnapura is the capital of the Sabaragumuwa province located just over 100 kilometers from Colombo. For years, the mining town has been famous for its precious and semi-precious stones which are mined off the 'Kalu Ganga' (Black river), one of the main rivers in Sri Lanka. Home to one of the best varieties of Zircons and Moonstones in the world, Garnets, Topaz, Star Rubies & Star Sapphires, Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Amethyst, Blue & Yellow Sapphires, the gem trade is mainly in the hands of many private individuals and enterprises. Should you want to make a purchase it's best to visit the Ratnapura Gem Bureau, Museum and Laboratory as you have a wide range to choose from and are least likely to be cheated in terms of price.
Located in a fertile valley, Ratnapura serves as a crossroad between the Southern part of the country and the hills, and will take up just a few hours of your time when visiting. A strategic starting point, some begin their climb to Adams' Peak from Ratnapura. Although the journey is tougher and many opt for the easier route via Dalhousie, the view is fantastic. You can also access the 9000 hectare UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve - 'Sinharaja', the remaining bit of wet zone rainforest in Sri Lanka. Home to more than 200 species of flora and 260 species of fauna, all of which are endemic to Sri Lanka, the trek through would be heaven for the nature lover and those who love the outdoors.
Types of Gems in Sri Lanka and Value
The gem history of Sri Lanka dates back to over 2000 years ago. Some of the most renowned and revered gem stones is the blue sapphire and star sapphires. The blue sapphire is Sri Lanka's most unique gem as it beholds a distinctive clarity, quality and color. Ceylon sapphires are undoubtedly superior in value in relation to sapphires hailing from other nations. Sri Lanka is famously more specifically known for its blue sapphires and attracts the admiration and demand from people from all around the world.
The people involved in mining gemstones in the country are of simple families who are skilled in this field and generally carry on this profession over generations. Their primitive means of carrying on the work in the mining fields still prove to be one of the most efficient approaches despite there being innovative technology introduced in the industry over the past recent years.
A unique gem tour can be explored as per the route above by starting off in Colombo and having a more commercial introduction to the gems then go on to Kandy and Matale areas which is also famous for its spices and wellness items. There are highly famous shops in these areas to shop for the most unique gems, specifically the "Kaka Nila" (blue sapphire). The gems purchased come with a globally recognized gem certification to confirm all authenticities.
After Kandy, clients usually proceed onto Galle area where further gem merchants are present, in addition to exploring the colonial unique town. Your next stop would be the gem capital of the country in Ratnapura where you can stay at the quaint Boulder Gardens. In Ratnapura you can gain first-hand knowledge on the gem mining in the country. Your final night can be spent in Negombo before your departure flight after an enriching experience in the country.