Dating back to ancient times, Sri Lankan gemstones and pearls have been sort after by aristocracy and royalty from all over the world. Due to its longstanding reputation over thousands of years in its production of some of the finest examples of gemstone in the world, Sri Lankan gemstones have adorned many a historical royal figure. Rumours run wild when it comes to King Solomon using a Sri Lankan gemstone, procured by his emissaries, to woo the Queen of Sheba. However, the most well-known royal wearer of a Sri Lankan gemstone was Princess Diana, who wore an 18-carat Ceylon Blue Sapphire, surrounded by 16 brilliantly cut diamonds on her white gold engagement ring. This engagement ring can now be seen on the hand of Catherine (Kate) Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge.
There are over 75 different types of gemstone in Sri Lanka. And with that many options, how on earth do you choose? A good place to start is with the top five gemstones: Sapphires, Rubies, Emeralds, Cat’s Eye and Alexandrite.
Sapphires are Sri Lanka’s most well-known gemstone ranging in colour from the Ceylon Blue Sapphire to variety of shades including pink, orange, red, green, blue, purple and padparadscha (which displays a unique mix of orange and pink resembling a lotus flower). Due to its large size, vibrant colour and deep luster it is easy to fall in love with the Ceylon Blue Sapphire as Princess Diana did.
Although referred to as a ‘ruby’, the correct name is Red Sapphire. With its rich and fiery red colouring, the Ruby has been popular among royals and the socially elite for thousands of years. The red colouring is often linked in with blood, power and desire, the very reason for its popularity with royals.
When set into jewellery, Emeralds possess a regal appearance, amplified by their deep green hues. Although a much softer gemstone compared to Sapphires and Rubies, the Emerald still holds high regard with the rich and famous. Emeralds can be found residing within one of the Smithsonian’s most famous collections: The Crown Jewels, as well as having a place in other collections of famous monarchs from Iran and India.
The Cat’s Eye gemstone take its name from the chatoyant ray that runs across its surface. Many cultures credit the Cat’s Eye with talismanic properties, providing protection for the wearer. Some of the largest Cat’s Eyes originated in Sri Lanka, with the famous 465-carat “Eye of the Lion” and the 200-carat “Eye of Ceylon” being among them.
Alexandrite is one of the rarest and most expensive gemstones in the world. Displaying blue-green hues in daylight and red-purple hues in incandescent light, is what makes this gemstone a unique beauty. The gemstone takes its named from the Russian monarch Tsar Alexander II, with legend detailing the gemstones discovery on his birthday.
Where to go:
Knowing where to go in Sri Lanka to buy gemstones isn’t as easy as one might think. The streets and shopping precincts are full of different gemstone stores, so much so that it can be a little overwhelming. To make that decision easier, Zam Gems is one of Sri Lanka’s market leaders in gemstone and jewellery production.
Since it’s beginnings in 1976, Zam Gems has grown into a well-established global brand, with a strong emphasis on sourcing only the finest of Sri Lanka’s gemstones and providing exceptional customer service in store. Zam Gems sources both semi-precious and precious stones which range from $25+ for semi-precious stones to the maximum price of around $6000 for precious gemstones and jewellery. With fifteen established retail outlets in both major luxury hotels and prominent locations around the country, Zam Gems is an absolute must. After all, nothing screams luxury quite like the finest gemstones in the world.
No. 81 Galle Road, Colombo 04
The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo 03
The Colombo Hilton Hotel, Colombo 03
The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo 03
The Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo 02
The Mount Lavinaia Hotel, Mount Lavinia
The Odel Shopping Complex, Colombo 07
The Movenpick Hotel, Colombo 03
No. 548, Peradeniya Road, Kandy
The Old Dutch Hospital, Galle
Bandaranaike Interanational Airport, Katunayake
Duty Free Area, Kuala Lumpar International Airport