Sri Lanka has been celebrated for the brightest and the most valuable gemstones in the world and was suspected to be the locality of mythical ‘Tarshish’, the port city, which supplied King Solomon with gems, silver, pearls and ivory.
Even today, Sri Lanka’s precious colored gemstones including Ceylon Sapphires, rubies, cats’ eyes and alexandrite are much sought after by the international jewelry makers.
While Sri Lanka is still the unchallenged Blue Sapphire capital in the world, and arguably since no other countries have produced sapphires to match the size, quantity, and quality for as a long time as Sri Lanka, the craftsmanship of the country’s master gem cutters too have contributed to swelling the country’s good name as one of the leading destinations for precious colored stones.
Sri Lanka’s long history and culture in gem mining and faceting have long given life to an artisan culture, which still sustains the skills required to maintain a winning industry. Sri Lanka only exports cut and polished gems, and most of the gem exports are precision-cut sapphires with diameters as small as 0.3 mm to leading jewelers and Swiss watchmakers across the world including Rolex, Montblanc, Tiffany, and Cartier.
A signatory of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a global process established to prevent the trading of conflict diamond or blood diamond, Sri Lanka is also a competitive diamond faceting and trading hub. With over 16 diamond manufacturers, Sri Lanka is the world’s largest manufacture of the tapered baguette diamonds and specializes in styling small diamonds of exceptional quality, which are imported sawn or cleaved rough.
While modern precision methods of diamond cutting and faceting are being used to serve the demand for calibrated stones with stricter stones lapidaries in Sri Lanka follow traditional and modern methods of precious stone cutting technologies to enhance the quality of stone with the minimum weight loss.
Although Western and Japanese buyers view traditional cutting as an outdated method of faceting, one cannot but appreciate the dexterity of these cutters who use centuries of traditional knowledge and experience to orient the rough gemstones to achieve the best face-up color while losing a minimum of weight.
Of all the cutting steps for colored stones, orienting the rough to display the best color through the table requires the highest skill, especially with valuable rough where weight retention is foremost. For high-quality sapphires, this method is still preferred by Sri Lanka cutters, especially for performing.
A skilled cutter can make slight angle adjustments to the table to achieve a fine color with a higher weight yield. With the initial orientation properly set the stone can be recut to close windows and to optimize proportions and symmetry with a minimum of weight loss.