|A true treasure trove
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Sri Lanka was its gorgeous gems. Ever since I read the stories of the Arabian nights and Aladdin’s cave when I was a girl (some time ago I’ll grant you,) sparkly precious jewels have held a fascination for me. Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a very long and colourful history and the country was known as Ratna-Dweepa which means Gem Island. Marco Polo wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and rubies in the world and Ptolemy the 2nd century astronomer noted the beauty of the Ceylon Sapphire. Records from Persian sailors show that they brought back “jewels of Serendib” which was the ancient name given to the Island. I have long been fascinated by gemstones and have been an avid fan of Gems TV, the first dedicated jewellery channel in Europe since its launch in 2004. I bought my first Neptune Topaz and my first Tanzanite ring from there. Going into a gem emporium for me is like a kid going into a candy shop, and in Sri Lanka it’s an experience which is the equivalent of enough sugar to put me into a diabetic coma. The most valuable sapphires are the darkest blue ones but they come in all sorts of dazzling colours which are so pretty they don’t even look real.
|Fancy Sapphires -Yes I do!|
|Multi coloured marvel|
There are pink ones and yellow ones and orange ones and green ones. There are star sapphires and cats eye Sapphires. They are all very beautiful, and when you see the rather dull looking rocks they come out of it is an even more extraordinary thing. The sparkling white sapphires are stunning and second only in hardness to diamonds. In fact, diamonds are comparatively common next to the rarer larger sapphires.
Lady Diana’s engagement ring, an 18 carat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds was from Sri Lanka a fact of which the Sri Lankans are very proud. Only a particular caste are allowed to make the beautiful jewellery of Sri Lanka. The expertise is handed down through the generations, there are no BTECs here.
|Spot the difference!|
|Lady of the ring|
|These are no midget gems|