The Lure And Reward Of Gemstones – Sri Lanka

Gemstones in Sri Lanka are a high commodity. Learn more about careers in gemology, and Sri Lankan gem export in this article.

In this miniseries we shall cover Sri Lanka, which is a short distance from the southern tip of India, and is known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”

The total worth of the world’s gemstone market is estimated at around 23 billion dollars and the thirst for them only grows with each passing year. This is due to the rich becoming richer, and the growing middle class.

What is a Gemstone?

Technically, only seven stones can be classified as precious – Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Catseye, Alexandrite and Pearl. Even though pearls are not stones, they are classified as such. The rest are known as semi-precious.

Technicals aside, Tanzanite which was discovered only in 1967, the Black Opal and Musgravite can be more expensive than the seven precious stones and are even more sought after.


As a Career

For young people, a career in Gemology is a good option job wise. A good gemologist earns anything from 50,000 dollars upwards, if employed. There are many different positions in gemology such as: buyer and merchandiser, a lab researcher and grader, an appraiser, a Jewelry designer, an auction house or a museum specialist and a jewelry photographer. Lately, jewelry bloggers have begin to monetize their work as well.

As for young adventurers and investors, the sky’s the limit. These people travel to different countries, deep into the mining areas, strike deals big and small, identify good stones to bring back to their country to sell for a profit. There are also those who buy directly from the wholesalers and own retail outlets around the globe.


In Sri Lanka

Apart from nature, spices, and beaches, this tiny country is richly endowed with minerals, most specially— precious and semi-precious stones. The island is known for its bountiful deposits of Ruby, Sapphire, Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Cymophane, Garnet, Topaz, Spinel, Tourmaline, Amethyst, Rose quartz, Agate, Citrine, Moonstone and Zircon. Quite a list!

The Gemological Institute offers several short courses in gemology covering gem identification and gem treatment. Some of the courses include field trips— The fees range from a couple of hundred to under a thousand dollars.

Just a 100 kilometers from the capital Colombo, is Ratnapura, where Sapphire was first mined. This  region is considered the Gem Capital. In fact, the name itself means the “City of Gems”. This is where they have the Sri Lankan Gem Museum as well.

This island country has many other mines including the Bible Sapphire Mines in Central Sri Lanka, The Elehara Gem Fields, Metiyagoda Moonstone Mines in the southwest coastal area, Morawaka Mines also in the south, Nuwara Eliya Mines in the beautiful mountainous tea plantation area and the Pelmadulla Sapphire Mines.

Incidentally, the Bible mentions Blue Sapphires several times and many believe the 10 commandments were written on Sapphire too!

Picture: Shutterstock/ ID: 563967172

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