Gems of Sri Lanka

Buying gems in Sri Lanka

Table of Contents

Although Sri Lanka is a small island, it has the greatest concentration of gems on earth and is ranked among the top five gem-bearing nations. “Rathnadeepa” literally means the “island of gems”, and is one of the ancient names of the island of Sri Lanka. Buying gems in Sri Lanka is very popular among precious stones lovers around the world because Sri Lanka is a well-known country in the world for precious and semi-precious stones.

History of the Sri Lankan Gem industry

The rich history of the Sri Lankan gem industry is confirmed by the records of the travellers such as Ptolemy and Marco Polo. According to their records, Sri Lanka has the best sapphires in the world. The sapphires of Sri Lanka can be found in many colours such as Green, yellow, pink, violet and blue. Sri Lankan blue sapphires are the finest of their kind found anywhere else in the world. Pale, bright blue colour which is known as “corn blue” is the identical colour to Sri Lankan blue sapphires. This colour is inherited only by the stones of Sri Lanka blue sapphires.

Importance of gem and jewellery industry to Sri Lanka

As a leading gem exporting country in the world, Sri Lanka attracts gem buyers from all around the world. The island earned around half a billion dollars through the export of gems, cut diamonds and jewellers every year. Sapphire such as blue sapphire, and star sapphire is one of the most popular stone varieties found on the island.  

Sri Lanka is the home to the world’s largest star sapphire cluster

The star sapphire cluster found in the city of Rathnapura in 2021, weighs around 510 kilograms or 2.5 million carats and has been named the “Serendipity Sapphire”. According to the gem experts, it has a pale blue colour and has an estimated value of up to $100 million in the international market. According to the geologists it is believed to be originated around 400 million years ago

Biggest blue sapphire in the world

The biggest natural corundum blue sapphire in the world was put on display in December in Sri Lanka. The stone weighing 310 kilograms (683 pounds), was discovered in a gem pit about three months ago. According to the gems and jewellery authority of Sri Lanka, it is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. The stone was discovered in Rathnapura (gem city), which is located at the foothills of the central mountain range.

Buying gems in Sri Lanka

Gem testing in Sri Lanka

All gemstones should be tested and receive a certificate from the state gems and jewellery authority before the export. Usually, the leading gem exporters and jewellery manufacturers adhere to this rule. However, there are few other gem shops and sellers that are selling gemstones without any certificate and proof of their value and authenticity. The value of gemstone depends on many factors such as clarity, colour, weight, cleanliness etc. The state gems and jewellery authority has a modern laboratory, where they calculate the value of stones correctly. Anyone can test their gemstone here at a very low cost.

Variety of gemstones found on the island

Sri Lankan blue sapphires are only second to the diamond in hardness. Sri Lankan blue sapphires are well known around the world due to their superior clarity, colour and brilliant shine compared to the blue sapphire found in the rest of the world. Sri Lanka boasts an array of other valuable gems including ruby, amethyst, cat’s eye, alexandrite, moonstones and topaz. All of these gemstones are highly demanded in the international market and help the island to earn foreign exchange.

What are the best places to buy gems in Sri Lanka?

If you are looking for the best place to buy gems in Sri Lanka, I would like to name below mentioned 3 places. All 3 places are popular in the gem and jewellery industry.

  • Rathnapura
  • Colombo
  • Kandy
Gems and jewellery of Sri Lanka

Buying gems in Sri Lanka invariably means buying gems in Ratnapura

Buying gems in Sri Lanka invariably means buying gems in Ratnapura because the majority of precious gemstones are discovered in Ratnapura. Ratnapura is the home of most of the gem mines in Sri Lanka and most of the people in the region are actively engaged in the gem and jewellery industry. Rathnapura supposes to be one of the best places for buying Gems in Sri Lanka. Travellers can buy jewellery in gold, silver or platinum studded with gems.

This glistening name was derived simply because of the richness of gems in the soil of the island. Sri Lanka is a leading gem nearing nation in the world and blessed with valuable, rare gem varieties. Sri Lanka is one of the top five gem producing countries in the world alone with Myanmar, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand.

Gem bearing regions of Sri Lanka

Gems are discovered in many parts of the country but “Sabaragamuwa” province is the most reputed region for this valuable stone. southern and western slopes of the central mountain range, which expands some 1500 sq km, are supposed to have the highest concentration of gems in the world.  The leading gem mining city of Sri Lanka Ratnapura is also located within the borders of Sabaragamuwa province.

Ratnapura is the hub of the gem industry on the island. Gem mining is the leading income generator for the city of Ratnapura. Due to the large concentration of gem mines, the city is visited by a large number of gem traders from all around the world. All of them are looking for a cut and uncut gemstones at a bargain price. The city has a rich historical background and it is the venue for many important religious places.

Gem testing is an essential part of the gem industry in every country and Buying gems in Sri Lanka is also essentially involved with gem testing. The testing laboratory of ‘NGJA’ which was established in 1972, was entrusted with the task of issuing Gem Testing Reports, thereby gaining confidence and integrity in the international Gem Trade. Presently the laboratory is staffed by internationally trained Gemmologists who have obtained internationally recognized professional qualifications.

The laboratory provides services to the general public, tourists and exporters and Free Gem Testing Service to Foreigners. These services are provided at laboratories functioning at the “NGJA” Colombo office, Ratnapura Gem Testing Laboratory and Gem Testing Laboratory in the Sri Lanka Gems and Jewellery Exchange located at the World Trade Centre Colombo 01.

Variety of Gemstones found in Sri Lanka

Stones such as sapphires, Rubies, Cats eye, tourmaline, topaz, zircon, alexandrite, amethyst and garnet are often found in Sri Lankan soil. Rathnapura, Ambalangoda, Galle, Kandy are some of the famous cities for buying gems in Sri Lanka While Rathnapura supposes to be the centre of the gems and jewellery industry in the country.

Over 40 of the 60 odd gem varieties on the market are found here, many in the Ratnapura region. Below is a selection of some of the popular gems available on the island.

Sri Lanka sapphires

Buying gems in Sri Lanka -Blue and Yellow Sapphire

The sapphire is considered to be a variation of ruby and the name derives from the Greek, sapphires, for “blue”. Blue is the most popular colour of sapphire, Sri Lanka blue sapphires are the finest in the world, ranging in shade from cornflower blue to deep royal blue. A large number of gem buyers are eying Sri Lanka blue sapphire due to its unique colour.

The yellow sapphire, with its pollen-like colour, is also popular. Since early times sapphire has been associated with celestial forces. In Sanskrit, it is revered as sauriratna, “sacred to Saturn”. Buddhists consider the sapphire a symbol of peace and faithfulness in love, making it a popular choice as an engagement ring gem.

Blue sapphire Sri Lanka price

Blue sapphire prices depend on many factors such as cleanliness, weight, colour, facet etc. The prices may vary between US$ 10 per stone to many thousands of Dollars


Buying gems in Sri Lanka -Star Ruby, Star Sapphire

Some rubies and sapphires have tiny needle-like inclusions so that when cut in a high domed, en cabochon shape, they display a six-rayed star. The star moves across the face of the stone with changes in the light, an effect known as asterism. The star sapphire was prized in ancient times as it was considered a talisman and a guiding star for travellers.

About 80% of gemstones exported from Sri Lanka are from the family of sapphire, of which 60% are blue sapphires and 1.5% is rubies. The blue sapphire is the most important precious stone found on the island in the account of this the Blue sapphire was named the national gemstone of Sri Lanka in 2003, and a few stamps with Blue sapphires were also issued in the same year.

Sri Lanka is the largest blue sapphire producer in the world and Myanmar, Madagaskar, Tanzania coming behind. Ruby and sapphires are produced in more countries. It has become important to state the country of origin in the individual gem identification reports. Blue sapphire from Kashmir in India fetches the highest price with Sri Lankan blue sapphires.

Buying gems in Sri Lanka-Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye

The Chrysoberyl cat’s eye mimics to perfection the appearance of a cat caught in a pair of headlights at night. Cat’s eye is available in 2 varieties mainly based on the colour, apple green or translucent honey brown

It is cut in high-domed, en cabochon fashion. In this way a silvery-white sheen glides across the dome whenever the gem is moved, widening and narrowing like the iris of a cat’s eye. This effect is caused by tiny inclusions reflecting the light and is known as chatoyancy. While this characteristic appears in other gems, it never has the clarity and impact of that of the Chrysoberyl cat’s eye.

Sri Lanka cats eye stone price

Sri Lanka’s cat’s eye stone price is also high compared to most precious stones found on the island. However, Sri Lanka cat’s eye stone price is also decided by many factors as to Blue sapphire price in Sri Lanka. Color, weight, facet, and cleanliness are key factors in deciding the Sri Lanka cat’s eye stone price.


Buying gems in Sri Lanka-Alexandrite

Alexandrite, the third hardest mineral on earth, is a fascinating freak of Mother Nature. Alexandrite was originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains and was named after Tsar Alexander. Other than Russia, Sri Lanka is the other country, where this stone occurs in the world.

Buying gems in Sri Lanka-Topaz

The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit word tapas, meaning “fire” a reference to the array of flame-like colours of the gem, including orange-yellow, amber-gold and cherry-red. Topaz also occurs in other colours, such as browns, pink, purple and blue. The most valuable variety is called imperial topaz – a beautiful reddish-gold colour. Topaz also occurs in browns, pinks, purple and blue. While topaz is a hard and durable gem, it can easily be cleaved.



Amethyst is one of the most common crystalline quartz used in jewellery manufacturing. Its stunning crystalline symbolized celibacy and piety in both Western and Eastern cultures. The name amethyst is derived from the Greek word meaning “not drunk” indeed, the ancient Greeks made wine glasses out of amethyst in the belief that it prevented drunkenness.


Garnets have long been associated with warriors simple because of their blood-red colour. Although garnets are associated with the colour red, they are found in all colours except blue.


The name aquamarine comes from the Latin for “seawater” as the gem possesses a blue or greenish-blue colour that is indeed reminiscent of the oceans. Aquamarine has long been considered a symbol of happiness and everlasting youth. It is believed that water in which aquamarine had been immersed was a cure for eye problems, breathing, difficulties and hiccups.

Buying gems in Sri Lanka-Tourmaline

This remarkable gemstone is found in the widest range of colours, from black to white and everything in between. Some tourmaline crystals contain luminescent bands of several colours – from red to green to blue – just like a crystallized rainbow. Tourmaline is not only beautiful, but it also has practical qualities because it becomes electrically polarized when heated.

Buying gems in Sri Lanka-Moonstone

The moonstone is a mysterious gem, as captivating as a full moon shining in the night sky. A mesmerizing interplay of light, known as schiller, causes a silvery-white sheen to glide like veils of mist across the milky surface of the moonstone. Some believe that this moving light is evidence of a living spirit that dwells within the gem. Moonstones, which are found in Sri Lanka only on a small block of land in the southern village of Meetiyagoda, are often made into attractive bracelets and necklaces.

Gem cutting

Sri Lanka is the fastest developing gem cutting and finishing country in the world, finishing very small stones, some of them are at the size of 1/3 of millimetres, with zero or very low tolerance based on technical drawings given by the customers. Sri Lankan gem cutters are supplying the gemstones to world-leading jewellery and watch manufacturers such as Rolex, Mont Blanc, Bvlgari, Cartier, Tiffany & Co etc.

Gem studded wooden elephant statues

Sri Lankan Jewellery Industry

At present approximately 15000 people are directly employed in the gem cutting industry. About 10000 of them are registered individual craftsmen while the rest is employed in factories and workshops, where they manufacture jewellery, mainly for the export market.

According to the statistics, about 1500 unregistered jewellery craftsmen are working under registered craftsmen. The majority of jewellery workshops and craftsmen are concentrated in the rural areas of the southern and central provinces of Sri Lanka and some other suppliers are scattered in the north-western, eastern and northern provinces.

Important gem buyers of Sri Lanka

The gems and jewellery industry of Sri Lanka can be divided into three sectors such as manufacturing for the export market, the local market and tourism. The main markets for Sri Lankan produced gems and jewellery are Japan, Germany, USA, UK Singapore and Hing Kong.

According to the statistics, buying gems in Sri Lanka shows a new trend, in which the silvery jewellery studded with semi-precious stones such as moonstones has been able to gain popularity and the demand for semi-precious gemstones are on the rise over the past few years.

Development of Sri Lanka gem industry

Jewellery design and gem cutting have undergone rapid development during the past few decades, mainly due to the use of computer software in the manufacturing process of the gem and jewellery industry. The use of computer software to create modern designs and casting jewellery for bulk production has come to play a major role in the jewellery industry.

The Blue Giant of the Orient

The Blue Giant of the Orient – is one of the largest blue sapphires in the world. Today it belongs to one of the gem and art collectors in America.

Blue Belle of Asia

Blue Belle of Asia – This valuable gemstone is 400 Carat and was found in the city of Ratnapura.

Logan Blue Sapphire

Logan Blue Sapphire – this 400 Carat gemstone is the second-largest blue sapphire in the world. It was gifted to Smithsonian Institution by Mrs John Logan.

Star of Lanka

Star of Lanka – Today this 193 Carat blue star sapphire is deposited in the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. This gemstone is considered to be the 3rd largest of its kind in the world.

Rosser Reeves Ruby

Rosser Reeves Ruby – another valuable star ruby discovered on the island of Sri Lanka. Today it is possessed by the Smithsonian museum.

Hope Cat’s Eye

Hope Cat’s Eye – this Chrysoberyl cat’s eye is considered to be the largest of its kind in the world. it is exhibited at the British Museum of National History.

Blue Belle

Blue Belle – is one of the most popular blue sapphires in the country. today it decorates the crown of the British queen.

Star of India

Even though it is named Star of India the gemstone originated in Sri Lanka. This star sapphire is 563 Carats and is presently exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in New York, America.

Gemstones and diamond-studded necklace

2 days trip for buyers gems in Sri Lanka

Usually, the gem museum is part of most Sri Lanka trip packages. Most Sri Lanka gem museums are workshops are to be found in Kandy. Therefore most local tour operators organize the gem museum visit when the customers take the Kandy city tour.

Specially designed Sri Lanka 2 days trip revolves around Kandy. The tour includes visits to 5 leading Gem shops giving you plenty of opportunities to choose the best gemstone for your requirement from thousands of various stones, which are fully certified by the state gem corporations.

As the organizer of the trip Seerendipity tours makes sure that you buy only genuine gemstones, not glass stones. We make sure that you get a valid certificate for every stone you purchase. All the gemstones bought during the trips can be tested at the state gem corporation without any additional price. This 2 days tour is a private tour and means you can decide how much time is spent at each stop.

Benefits of Sri Lanka gemstone trip

  • Authentic genuine gemstones
  • All stones are tested and certified
  • Best price
  • A large collection to choose from
  • Choose the best shop with different prices by visiting 5 shops
  • Visit tourist hotspots in Kandy such as tooth relic temple, Peradeniya botanical gardens, tea garden, and Pinnawala elephant orphanage

Sri Lanka gemstone trip 2 days in a nutshell

Day 1 Colombo-Kandy

  • 07.00 AM meet and greet by Seerendipity tours representative and leave for Kandy.
  • 10.00 AM Optional visit to Pinnawala elephant orphanage
  • 12. 00 AM check-in the hotel and leisure
  • 01.00 PM Leave for gem shops and 2 gem shops
  • 06.30 PM visit tooth relic temple

Day 2 Kandy-Colombo

  • 09.00 AM Leave for gem shops in the city and visit 3 gem shops
  • 01.00 PM continue further on the Gemstone trip until 3.00 pm
  • 02.00 PM leave for Colombo, en-route visit a spice garden and Peradeniya botanical garden.

1 Day trip for Buying gems in Sri Lanka

This is one of the most sought after Sri Lanka one day trips, specially crafted for travellers, who wish to engage in gem shopping within a few hours. The tour revolves mainly around Colombo with visits to 5 gem shops within 6 hours. This one day tour is a private program and thereby you can decide how much time is spent at each stop.

This one gem buying tour also includes visits to many interesting places in Colombo such as Viharamahadevi park, Gangarama temple, old parliament, Pettah, Galle face green, Independent square and many places.

Why you should book a Sri Lanka gem buying trip with Seerendipity Tours

Seerendipity tour is an entirely locally owned travel company with a head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity tours and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka.

Best price for your Sri Lanka vacation packages

When you book a tour with us, you directly book the tour with the local company, which means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Plan your best Sri Lanka vacation packages with experts

Our staff makes a personalized program for you, which you can change until you find the best package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration; all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write to us at, Tel 0094-77-440977, WhatsApp 0094-77-4440977

Sri Lanka gem and jewellery authority

12 thoughts on “Buying gems in Sri Lanka”

  1. I have previously heard that Sri Lanka produces the best blue sapphires in the world. I’m very fond of Gems and collect them. I would like to travel to Sri Lanka with the opportunity to buy gems, though genuine gems. Because as I know some people are selling artificial gemstones which are very similar to natural stones. The trip should be 14 days trip.

  2. I just wanted to construct a brief comment on your article about Sri Lanka gems. thank you for some of the stunning facts you are giving out here. I will be visiting Sri Lanka in October and we have already planned a sightseeing tour, In the itinerary, we will be visiting a Gem museum. Will it be possible to buy Sri Lankan gems in the gem museum?

  3. We wanted to buy some jewellery for our upcoming wedding and we knew that Sri Lanka is one of the best places to buy the gem. During our research, we came across this article and booked their one day trip right away. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and the great collection of precious stones.

  4. Taking the trip suggested on the page was very useful for us to buy the jewellery we wanted to have. Initially, we did not plan to buy gem but their prices were very affordable.

  5. We had been to Sri Lanka 2 years ago and we booked a 7 days trip through the island allowing us to visit tourist attractions. During the trip, our guide took us to a gem museum and gem mine and gave us a free introduction to gemstones. The jewellery in Sri Lanka was very affordable and it was a nice experience.

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