Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a very long and colorful history. Sri Lanka was affectionately known as Ratna-Dweepa which means Gem Island. The name is a reflection of its natural wealth. The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka are known as Ceylon Sapphire. Sapphire derive their name from the Latin word “Sapphirus” meaning blue, and are often referred to as the ‘gem of the heavens’ or the ‘celestial gem’ as their colors mirror the sky at different times of the day.
Blue is one of the favorite colors of both men and women and is a color psychologically linked to the emotion of sympathy, calmness and loyalty.
Blue sapphires are traditionally the most coveted members of the sapphire family. Sapphires are one of the toughest gemstones, second in hardness only to Diamonds. Corundum is primarily mined from alluvial deposits and only occasionally from host rock deposits just beneath the earth’s surface. Asterism or the ‘star effect’ is a reflection effect that appears as two or more intersecting bands of light across the surface of a gem. This rare phenomenon is found both in Sapphires and Rubies.
The island of Ceylon holds the earliest records for the mining is Sapphires. Noted for their cornflower blues, Ceylon Sapphires are synonymous with top quality Sapphires and are highly coveted. Light to medium blue sapphires are the most desired blue sapphires from Sri Lanka.
They generally attract a higher price amongst all hues of Blue Sapphires. A classic source of quality Sapphires throughout history, mining occurs in the gem rich alluvial gravels found beneath the tea-covered slopes of Elahera and Rathnapura.
Ceylonese Sapphires received their boost in their popularity in 1981 when Prince Charles gave lady Diana an engagement ring set with a stunning 18 carat Ceylonese Sapphire.
Some of the world’s largest sapphires are from Sri Lanka. In fact, the world’s three largest faceted blue sapphires are all from Sri Lanka; “Blue Giant of the Orient” (466 carats), “Logan Blue Sapphire” (423 carats – as pictured on the right) and “Blue Belle of Asia” (400 carats). It is remarkable that Sri Lanka is not only the most productive source for sapphire, but the sapphire mines there are among the oldest known.