Sri Lanka Gemstones

Sri Lanka Gemstones

Gemstones are the country’s most renowned mineral resource. Historically known as Ceylon, it continues to be one of the world’s most important sources for rare and valuable gemstones such as sapphires (blue and pink), rubies, alexandrite, chrysoberyl, and almandine.

All these gems occur in alluvial deposits of river and stream beds. Prospecting for such deposits is carried out by hand and with a variety of low tech but effective methods.



Sapphires come in a variety of colors, but none are more prized than the blue ones. The deeper the color, the more expensive the sapphire will be. However, the most important factor is the clarity. Almost all gems have inclusions, so the clearer the sapphire, the more valuable it will be.

The island of Sri Lanka has a long history of gemstone mining and trading dating back 2500 years. Persian traders often referred to it as Serendip, meaning “Gem Island.” The country is famous for its brilliant medium blue sapphires, but it is also home to spectacular parti (multicolor) sapphires and vanadium-rich corundum.

In addition to its vibrant blue hues, Ceylon sapphires are known for their luster and durability. These characteristics make them an ideal choice for engagement rings and other fine jewelry. The island’s gem mines are located in Ratnapura, the main center of the industry.

Mining in Sri Lanka is still done in traditional ways. For example, Maneesha shared with us how workers pray before they begin work and perform rituals in the mining area. This is a way for the workers to honor the gods and the land they are working in.

In fact, the world’s three largest faceted blue sapphires were all from Sri Lanka, including the famed “Blue Giant of the Orient.” The natural blue sapphire is an affordable alternative to diamonds and other precious stones, and is considered a symbol of trust and loyalty. It is said to inspire wisdom and a desire for truth. Taking after Virgo, the sapphire brings balance and practicality to relationships. It is also said to attract good luck. Likewise, it is a popular stone among Sagittarius individuals, as it encourages them to seek adventure and knowledge.


ruby stone
Ruby Stone

Rubies have fascinated, entranced and romanced people since their discovery 2,500 years ago. The intense crimson color of the gem is believed by many to have the power to bring good luck, health and long life. A ruby is a true symbol of passion and love, which makes it an ideal gift for a special person in your life.

The classic source for rubies is the Mogok Stone Tract in upper Burma, but fine stones also come from Vietnam along the Thai/Cambodian border and India, Madagascar and Tanzania. However, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is the single most important source of fine rubies, including the very rare Padparadscha variety.

While most rubies on the market today are heated to improve their clarity and intensify their colors, this treatment has not changed the fundamental nature of the gemstone. The best rubies exhibit a vivid and clear red body colour with hints of pink, purple and blue. They are lustrous, durable and have excellent hardness.

A ray of light passing through a ruby can produce a phenomenon known as asterism. A well-cut star ruby displays six rays that are straight and evenly spaced, similar to the shape of a star in the night sky. It is an important consideration in choosing a ruby, especially for collectors and investors, as this quality adds to the value of a gem.

In addition to rubies, Ceylon produces a wide range of other fine gemstones, including blue sapphire and pink sapphire (Padparadscha); alexandrite; cat’s-eye chrysoberyl; tourmaline; moonstone; and quartz. The Facets Sri Lanka International Gem and Jewellery Show in September, which is held at the Exhibition and Convention Centre of BMICH in Colombo, is an excellent opportunity to meet with traders from around the world.


tourmalinated quartz
Tourmalinated Quartz

Tourmaline is a vibrant gem in a kaleidoscopic array of colors. Its abrasion-resistant properties make it an ideal choice for fashion jewelry. It also exhibits rare phenomena such as chatoyancy, color zoning, and asterism. Until the advent of modern gemology in the 18th century, spinels and tourmalines were often confused.

The metamorphic rocks of Kurunegala in the Western Province of Sri Lanka are renowned for hosting an array of precious and semi-precious gemstones, including spinels, quartz, chrysoberyl, tourmaline, garnets and sapphires. The area’s metamorphic rock formations are believed to be among the oldest in the world and they contain a rich treasure trove of natural gems.

This region is also known as the gem field of the country and it houses more than 70 varieties of minerals. Many of these gems are found in alluvial deposits. The mining methods are simple and economical and the land quickly returns to its original use once the gems have been extracted.

Most of the gems in Sri Lanka are mined in artisanal pits by hand using traditional methods. The gems are then cut and polished by local artisans to create a wide range of products including rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and other jewelry items.

A study was conducted to investigate the extent of colour changes in brown-colored tourmaline by heat treatment and its effect on reactivity and clarity. Ten samples were subjected to heat treatment at different temperatures in a “Lakmini” gas-fired furnace and observed under a gemological microscope before and after the treatment. The findings revealed that the coloured tourmaline was able to change its colour and exhibit clarity enhancement with varying soaking times and heating temperatures.



Chrysoberyl is an exotic gemstone with a stunning color range and interesting optical properties. The gem is extremely rare and is coveted by collectors worldwide. It is known for its bright yellow and greenish colors, as well as its cat’s eye effect. Its unique chatoyancy is caused by inclusions in the crystal that cause a narrow strip of light to wink across its surface, much like the eye of a feline predator.

Chrysoberyl has a Mohs hardness rating of 8.5, which makes it one of the hardest naturally occurring gemstones on Earth. It has a high refractive index and excellent brilliance, and is found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It occurs in tabular and prismatic crystals, and is often twinned with striations or other markings. Its most common color is a deep-greenish yellow, but it also can be yellow to greenish-yellow or brownish-yellow.

Unlike most gemstones, chrysoberyl is very durable. It can withstand more extreme conditions than most other precious stones, but it is best to avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, such as chlorine. Chrysoberyl can also be damaged by prolonged exposure to heat.

Chrysoberyl’s stunning hues and optical properties make it a valuable collector’s item, especially those that exhibit the phenomenon of chatoyance. It is also the only gemstone that displays the color-change effect known as alexandrite.

While chrysoberyl is not as popular as rubies or sapphires, it is an intriguing and dazzling gem. It can be purchased in a wide variety of shapes and colors, including octagons, ovals, marquise cuts, hearts, and emerald-cuts. Depending on its color, chrysoberyl symbolizes different things: yellow and golden chrysoberyl promote abundance and self-expression, while blue chrysoberyl helps you connect with your psychic powers.



Padmaraga is a rare, precious gemstone found in the tropical island of Sri Lanka. It is a deep mixture of pink and orange that is very much like a tropical sunset. While blue sapphires are the most popular gem from Sri Lanka, this particular shade is extremely coveted for its alluring beauty and durability. The Padmaraga color is also known as the lotus flower sapphire. It is the rarest of all the hues of sapphire and is very prized by collectors.

The padmaraga is often used in jewellery for engagement rings and necklaces. It is believed to bring good fortune and happiness to the wearer. It is also believed to help a person achieve his/her goals and dreams. It is also a very powerful protection stone against evil forces and it is very helpful in times of conflict. The padmaraga is also known as a gem that can enhance a person’s ability to judge in difficult situations.

A pure, natural Padmaraga is considered to have a delicate mix of pink-orange and orangey pink with pastel tones and low to medium saturation when viewed under standard daylight. While sapphires with pinkish orange hues can be found in other places around the world, purists claim that only a genuine Padmaraga originating from Sri Lanka has the right to bear the name.

It has been long used in traditional Indian jewelry. It is said to have the power to cure skin diseases and improve eyesight. It is also a very sacred gemstone among the Hindus. It is regarded as one of the three jewels of God, which are Human jewel (manusya-ratna), Divine Jewel (divya-ratna) and Bodhisattva Jewel (bodhisattva-ratna). The sri lankan Padmaraga are often heat treated to improve their colour and clarity.

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