Sapphire Hunting in Sri Lanka

Sapphire means ‘blue stone’ in Greek, but the gemstone can be found in other colors, such as yellow, pink, purple, green, white, orange …

Sri Lanka has always been famous for its beautiful natural sapphires; the term  ‘Sri Lankan sapphire’ has become a guarantee of quality. 

As most of the Sri Lankan population is Buddhist, mining is restricted to small-scale operations where heavy machinery is forbidden. This is to ensure that no harm comes to any living beings. Mines can be as small as the one shown above.

I went to my fellow GIA gemologist friend, Aly’s sapphire mine in Ratnapura. This is  the gem-mining center of Sri Lanka, located in Sabaragamuwa Province, in the south of the island.

A miner descending the mine shaft. 

The miners use hand-held tools to loosen the earth in the mine galleries. A bucket is used to haul the earth up the mine shaft.

In Ratnapura, the sapphires are earth-mined which means the earth is washed to reveal the mother rocks in which the sapphires are embedded.

Next, the sapphires are graded and then sent to the cutting factory where they are cut by professional cutters. This is a painstaking, time-consuming craft which takes several years to master.

Next, the sapphires are graded and then sent to the cutting factory where they are cut by professional cutters. This is a painstaking, time-consuming craft which takes several years to master.

After cutting, the sapphire will be polished to reveal the sapphire’s depth of color and brilliance.

After cutting, the sapphire will be polished to reveal the sapphire’s depth of color and brilliance.

 

Marquis-cut calibrated sapphires

As a GIA gemologist, I am always looking  for exquisite gems. I classify them by size, shape, color and clarity grade.

Back in my workshop in Beijing, I work closely with my artisans to craft pieces of jewelry which are unique - ready to continue their journey with one of my clients.   

 

A sapphire’s journey from the earth to its rebirth as a unique piece of art

Pink Sapphire Knot Ring  A sinuous “knot” ring of double rows of princess-cut pink sapphire pavé, finished with a pink sapphire (4.8 cts). The ring is set in 18k rose gold

Pink Sapphire Knot Ring
 A sinuous “knot” ring of double rows of princess-cut pink sapphire pavé, finished with a pink sapphire (4.8 cts). The ring is set in 18k rose gold