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Journey Through Sri Lanka: Unearthing the Gemstone Paradise - Part 1

Updated: Jun 30

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the "Jewel Box of the Indian Ocean," is a paradise for gemstone enthusiasts. My first visit in 2016 to this enchanting island was more than just a research trip for my book—it was an adventure into the heart of a country rich with history, culture, and an abundance of natural beauty. As I reflect back on those days, I am filled with excitement to share my experiences and inspire you to join us on our Sri Lanka Gemstone Tour in 2025.

Sri Lanka Travel

Nine Arches Bridge, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Gemstones Travel

Discovering the Gem Mines of Ratnapura

My journey began in Ratnapura, the City of Gems. As my vehicle wound its way through lush, green landscapes, I couldn't help but feel a sense of anticipation. Ratnapura, which means "City of Gems," is aptly named. The city is a bustling hub of gem mining, trading, and cutting.

Stepping into a gem mine for the first time was like stepping back in time. The mines are a labyrinth of tunnels and pits, where miners work tirelessly, driven by the hope of unearthing a precious gem.

 Sri Lanka Gemstones Travel Kuruwita

Sri Lanka Gemstones Mining Ratnapura

The methods employed are traditional and labour-intensive, a stark contrast to modern mining techniques. I remember watching the miners sift through gravel with meticulous care, their faces a blend of concentration and hope. The moment they discovered a glimmering sapphire or ruby was a moment of pure joy and triumph.

Sri Lanka Gemstone Miners at work

A Day in the Gem Markets

Next, I ventured into the vibrant gem markets of Ratnapura. The markets are a sensory overload of colours and sounds. Stalls lined with an array of gemstones in every conceivable shade beckon buyers from all corners of the world. It was here that I met local gem traders and learned about the nuances of gemstone quality and value.

Sri Lanka Gemstones Trader

Negotiations were lively and animated, a dance of words and gestures as buyers and sellers sought to reach a fair price.

Sri Lanka Gemstone Market Ratnapura

One particularly memorable interaction was with a trader who proudly displayed a collection of stunning yellow sapphires. His eyes sparkled with passion as he explained the unique characteristics of each stone. Holding a sapphire up to the light, he revealed its mesmerising internal world, a testament to the wonders hidden beneath Sri Lanka’s surface.

Gemstone Market in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka

Connections and Conversations

During my time in Sri Lanka, I made invaluable contacts within the gem industry. One such contact was a gem cutter who graciously invited me to his workshop. Here, I witnessed the intricate process of gem cutting, where raw stones are transformed into dazzling gems. The precision and skill required are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Each cut, each polish is a step towards revealing the gem's true potential.

Gemstone Cutter Sri Lanka

As I look back on these experiences, I am reminded of the passion and dedication that drives the people of Sri Lanka. Their connection to the land and its treasures is profound, and their hospitality is boundless. This journey was not just about gemstones; it was about the people who bring these stones to life.

Kim Rix GG GIA

Gemstone Detective

Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence

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