Ceylon Blue Sapphires are the most popular type of sapphires in the world, none of the other varieties of gemstones found in Sri Lanka are as popular. Blue Sapphires are mainly mined in Sri Lanka, in fact, Sapphires account for 83% of the all 130 precious gemstones that are mined in the island. The country’s highland regions are known to have the best quality rough and new rich deposits. Sri Lanka is a major hotspot destination for large blue sapphires and star sapphires as well.
Sri Lanka has been a major supplier of fine-quality blue sapphire for many millennia. According to historical records, Sri Lanka was already renowned for sapphire in the 2nd century A.D., and by the 4th and 5th centuries, there was a thriving international commerce in Ceylon jewels
Why is Sri Lankan Sapphire World Renowned for Quality ?
Ceylon Blue Sapphire is known for their lighter, brighter and more cleaner blue color with exceptional transparency. Blue Sapphires are prized for their vibrant violetish blue tone. Cut stones are often made from rough materials that have been formed into bipyramidal crystals. The inclusion of long, slender rutile needles in Sri Lankan sapphire is notable but it can be quite challenging to spot even with the help of a microscope. Today, they are widely recognized for their expensive price tags, Sri Lankan blue sapphire earned its reputation as a result of these unprecedented gemmological characteristics. Some of the world’s largest blue sapphires and stars originate from Sri Lanka, including Blue Giant of the Orient, Logan Sapphire, and the Star of Adam and Ceylon Blue Sapphires.
Sri Lanka’s unique geological composition allows Sri Lankan gemstone miners to mine these large blue sapphire gemstones. Many Sri Lankan gemstone processors are highly focused on maintaining the original integrity of the gemstone, therefore various methods of treatment for gemstones is quite an unpopular choice amongst them.
Sapphires are a sign of love, dedication, power, monarchy, and wisdom, and are known for their stunning and enigmatic beauty. Some of the most prominent Royal connections are The Ceylon Sapphire studded Imperial Crown of Russia worn by Queen Catherine II of Moscow, and the gifting of sapphire brooch by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on the day of their wedding.
More than 90% of Sri lanka’s island is made out of precambrian era metamorphic rocks, metamorphism is a process that involves the transition of existing rock into new types of rock. Temperatures of more than 150 to 200 °C, as well as tremendous pressure is applied to the original rock, generating significant physical and chemical changes.
The island of Sri Lanka, famously known as Ceylon, has a well seasoned 2000 year old history in the gem industry. Sri Lanka is a tropical island off the southern tip of India in the Indian Ocean, one of the best tropical travel destinations in the world, With its plethora of corundum ( Sapphire & Ruby ) gems, chrysoberyl and alexandrite, garnet, moonstone, peridot, and spinel, Sri Lanka has acquired the nickname “Gem Island” or “Island of Gems”]
In Sri Lanka, gem mining is predominantly based on alluvial secondary deposits discovered in gem-bearing river gravels, old flood plains and streams that are now covered with fertile farmland and terraced rice fields. Alluvial is material deposited by rivers. It consists of silt, sand, clay, and gravel, as well as much organic matter.
The name ‘Ratnapura’, is a Sanskrit word meaning “city of gems “, from the Sanskrit words ” pura” (town) and “ ratna” (gemstone). Ratnapura district is the heart & soul of the gem industry of Sri Lanka, the city is the very first region to mine Sapphire gems. Also key mining sites such as Bibile sapphire mines , Elahera Gem Fields , Metiyagoda moonstone mines, Morawaka , Nuwara Eliya mines , and Pelmadulla sapphire mines are located across the island strengthening gem exports of Sri Lanka.
Hussain & Sons’s gem mining operations are primarily focused in mining corundum gems such as Blue Sapphire, Padparadscha Sapphire (a.k,a King Sapphire / Salmon Sapphire) & Pink Sapphire. The sheer amount of work that the workers go through to mine these gemstones are truly remarkable. The sight of workers working in perfect harmony is absolutely awe-inspiring, however it’s not as glamorous for these workers who work at the mining site. The nature of the job requires immense physical strength and stamina, they also have to be able to tolerate claustrophobic and other harsh environments. Teams of strong men hand dig deep mining trenches that sometimes can be almost as deep as 50 feet while pumping out most of the water that seeps underneath the ground, after that it’s game time..! The slurry is then carefully scanned for gemstones while sluicing with cone shaped baskets. The basket is moved around until the heavier stones sink to the bottom.
Sri Lankan trade and statutory framework is opposed to large-scale gemstone mining. They believe that conventional small-scale miners are less damaging to the environment and provide a more consistent source of work for more people. The landowner, the holder of the mining rights, the person who supplies the water pump to remove water from the pit, and the miners are generally all actively engaged in the industry. They are all paid a portion of the revenue from the selling of the gemstones.