The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is located in the South Asia on the island with the same name washed by the Indian Ocean. The country’s area is 65 610 km². In 2013 its population was almost 21.7 million people.
The name “Sri-Lanka” can be translated from the Sinhala as “sacred island”. In spite of the fact that the country has kept its name more than forty years, the word “Ceylon” is commonly used today. The island became famous for Ceylon tea, spices and gemstones.
In Sri Lanka sapphires were mined even in ancient times. The deposits are located in the south-west of the country, in one hundred kilometers to the south-east from Colombo, near Ratnapura city. The name “Ratnapura” means “the city of gemstones”. In Sri Lanka sapphires are mined from river gravels at the depth of two or five meters. The deposits are located in the productive agricultural regions. Today rice fields cover this land. To access the gem-bearing layer mines hand-dig shafts and constantly pump out water. On the island the mining methods remain unchanged from the ancient times.
Sapphires of different colors are mined on the island. Most of them are light-blue sometimes with violet shades, light-blue with spotted coloring and aquamarine. Yellow and orange varieties of the “padparadscha” sapphires as well as green, pink, brown and almost colorless stones, finally “star” and “cat’s eye” sapphires can also be found in these mining locations.
Some of the sapphire crystals mined in Sri Lanka weighed up to 500 carat. In 1974 two unique sapphires were found. The blue stone weighed 114 carat and the yellow one weighed 300 carat.