The gem industry in Sri Lanka enjoys a celebrated history mainly due to the Island's gem reserves and the country stands today as one of the world's largest gem suppliers with products of unparalleled quality. While the country exports over 75 different kinds of precious and semi-precious gemstones, sapphire varieties make nearly 85% of the export share at the moment.
While the rest of the world believes in the extreme extraction of gems and diamonds using heavy machinery and state of art mining equipment, gem mining in Sri Lanka is mostly a labor of love heavily dependent on elbow grease and skill than any other machinery.
The Export Development Board (EDB) entered into a promotional agreement with Thai Trade Centre Chennai (TTCC) on 7 February to further develop two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The agreement that was entered into between EDB and TTCC was a result of long and effective discussions between the Sri Lanka Embassy in Thailand, EDB, NGJA and SLGJA. The agreement was signed in the presences of the Ambassador for Thailand in Sri Lanka Nopporn Adchariyavanich at the EDB in Colombo.
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.
In the wake of the Free Trade Agreement between China & Sri Lanka to be finalized around March 2017 and of the recently signed Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association (SLGJA) & Guangdong Gems and Jade Exchange (GDGJE), it’s on the cards that Sri Lankan gem exports to China, the world’s largest gem importer enjoying the lion’s share, that is, 76.8% of the world gem market - In financial terms, China’s gem imports amount to a whopping US $25.8 billion - will grow considerably.
Sri Lanka was once again reaffirmed as the Rathnadweepa or ‘the isle of gems’ by the discovery of the biggest blue star sapphire from a mine in Rathnapura, the town of gems.
Weighing an astonishing 1404 carats, the rare star sapphire now known as ‘Star of Adam’ was valued at over USD 300 million. Found during the fall of the year 2015, the star sapphire has evoked a greater interest and excitement among the global gem and jewelry traders.
Sri Lanka has been known for exquisite jewellery designs made with gold and silver and decorated with precious gems for nearly three thousand years.
Country's most famous political prisoner of all times, Robert Knox, observed that many women in ancient Sri Lanka at least owned one piece of exquisitely made gold or silver jewellery adorned with a precious stone.
Gold and silver jewellery plays a larger part in Sri Lankan culture, they are an essential part of a local bride's trousseau regardless of her economic and social standards and is among the first of the investments parents make for their daughters.
The search for a colourful precious gemstones is a struggle between life and death to many gemstone miners in Sri Lanka, who risk their lives deep inside the gem pits in search of the precious bounties of the earth. The earth’s greatest concentration of gems in over 50 varieties is found within the country’s land area of approximately 25,000 square miles.
Mining for gem stones is a group attempt in Sri Lanka, where a group of miners combine effort with a landowner and an investor to search for that one gemstone that would fetch them an earth shattering price.
Famed for their clarity and distinct pink red colour rubies from Sri Lanka has had a special place in global history.
A giant ruby from Sri Lanka helped King Solomon win the heart of Queen Sheba and another in his regal ring carried magical powers, and even after several thousand years, Sri Lankan rubies are celebrated for their colour, cut and quality.
For centuries, Sri Lanka has earned great global renown for its blue sapphires, star sapphires, star rubies and pathmaraga sapphires. Boasting an unusually fine quality, Sri Lankan sapphires come in a wide range of enchanting hues, from deep blues to legendary delicate pinks. The Ceylon blue sapphire is also one of the few sapphires in the world that can be sold as a perfectly natural stone sans heat treatment. All these highly merchantable qualities of Ceylon sapphire help it claim great recognition worldwide - a brand created more by the sellers and consumers than by the producers of the stone.
Sri Lanka ranks with Myanmar, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand as one of the world's most important gem-bearing nations. Although Sri Lanka is largely known for precious sapphires and rubies, the main types of gemstones found in Sri Lanka belongs to five major categories, which are; corundum, chrysoberyl, spinel, garnet and tourmaline.
Nearly 3000 organisations equipped with trained staff, state-of-the-art equipment and generations of experience are engaged with the task of shaping raw and uncut gemstones to their best look prior to exportation.
Sri Lankan miners, jewellers and gem traders have been experts in bringing out the best colour, clarity and texture of a gemstone for nearly 30 centuries. Even the earliest gemstones found during the archaeological excavations show signs of advance faceting compared to the rudimentary polishing and cutting methods used in other gem trading countries like India.
Sri Lanka’s coloured stone industry which is the fourth largest export earner in the island should export more value addition gems to contribute better to the country’s’ export earnings , a senior official at Export Development Board (EDB) said.
“We are doing our best to achieve the highest value added gem market,” Bandula Egodage, chariman and chief executive of Sri Lanka Export Development Board said.
Sri Lanka will participate in Japan’s largest international jewellery trade show this month. This event is known as “ IJT international jewellery trade show.”
A wide variety of products in the jewellery industry gathers under one roof, at the world trend-setting city, Tokyo. Sri Lanka could increase the US$ one billion overall export target in 2016, if the local gem/precious stone exports were encouraged and developed targeting international markets. Therefore, participating for international trade shows should help to capture news markets, Director Marketing and Export -National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Rohan Perera said.
The International Colored Gem Stones Congress(ICA), the sole global think-tank which serves to benefit the colored gemstone industries have chosen Sri Lanka as its host country for its 16th congress to be held in May 16th - 19th, 2015 in Colombo at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.
This is the second time that Sri Lanka will be hosting the prestigious ICA event which prides itself for uniting various segments of the colored gem trade. The theme for the event is `Sapphire and MORE`. A `Facets Congress Gem Show` will also be held from May 15th to 18th at same venue.
The country’s gem and jewellery industry continues its growth momentum with increased export revenue for the first six months of 2013.“We could observe a steady growth in export revenue generation. The growth momentum in the sector augurs well for related industries where its contribution to the national economy becoming more significant,” said Chairman and CEO National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Amitha Gamage.
“We are confident that if this growth momentum continues the gem, jewellery and diamond sector will reach $ one billion by 2016, he said.