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Question about Ceylon Sapphires?

Indylady

Ideal_Rock
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Apr 28, 2008
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Ceylon is just another term for Sri Lanka, just like Burmese rubies and Mogok rubies refer to rubies from Myanmar.
 

klewis

Brilliant_Rock
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Dec 21, 2008
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Did you mean where are the mines located in Sri Lanka? I think the main mines are around Ratnapura which is located about 100 kms southeast of Colombo. Gary Braun of Finewater Gems has a couple of interesting blogs about his gem finding trips to Sri Lanka.
http://www.finewatergems.com/sri-lanka-2011.html
 

Pandora II

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The main gem areas are around Ratnapura in the South West of Sri Lanka. These are alluvial sedimentary deposits where the gemstones are found in gravels called 'illama' around 20m+ underground.

The material itself comes from the Highland Complex of Pre-Cambrian rocks in the centre of Sri Lanka and as these rocks weathered the pieces were washed downhill into the rivers and streams that took them down to the floodplains on which Ratnpura is sited. The miners go looking for the possible sites of old rivers now long gone and dig down in the hope of finding the placer deposits.

There are also some pegmatitic deposits in Sri Lanka that are mined as seams - the moonstone mines at Meetiyagoda, an aquamarine deposit at Akerella and IIRC a chrysoberyl deposit.

I've been to Ratnapura several times - it's pretty rural, the best hotel in the town - although a beautiful building and formerly the colonial governor's house - was possibly last renovated in the early 1900's, doesn't have hot water and doesn't have e-mail! The food is really good there though, presuming that you like 'rice & curry' which is the national dish and comes in a choice of chicken, vegetable or fish and is hot - the Sri Lankans have the highest per capita consumption of chilli of anywhere in the world.

The surrounding countryside is very green and jungle-like with lots of fields of rice etc all of which seem to have a gem-mine plonked somewhere in the middle. It rains - A LOT - and there have been terrible floods in previous years. There are over a thousand mines there - both legal and illegal.

So, fun and interesting place to visit as long as you don't mind insects, cold water showers and very high humidity!

The mines run as co-operatives where the proceeds are shared amongst the miners, the landowner and the dealer (if he isn't one of the former). It tends to work out as 50% for the landowner (who also finances the mine), 25% between the miners (and the guy who owns the water pump!) and 25% for overheads.

The Sri Lankan government don't allow mechanised mining nor do they allow the export of rough. This ensures that rich Westerners can't come in with bulldozers, mine the whole place and then leave a complete dump. Instead the system of small mines ensures that there is a sustainable industry for several more centuries, that the environment is protected and the cutting industry is also protected.

Ceylon became Sri Lanka in 1948 when they ceased to be a British Colony, although many places still use the word Ceylon.
 

bright ice

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Pandora, thank you. You provided an exceptional answer to my question :read:
 

Treenbean

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Pandora!!! You are fabulous, you little gemstone encyclopedia!!!
 

Pandora II

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Treenbean|1306766214|2933661 said:
Pandora!!! You are fabulous, you little gemstone encyclopedia!!!
Actually, just to fess up, I have recently completed a paper on the Meetiyagoda moonstone mines as part of my FGA. As part of that I did rather a lot of research on the lithology of Sri Lanka in general so just happened to know most of this through that.

Plus have been to Ratnapura a few times in the interests of my gemstone collection/our honeymoon... my husband thinks we go to exotic locations on holidays for the sun, scenery and general tourist stuff, one of these days he's going to join up the dots regarding my extreme interest in any proposed location's native geology... :Up_to_something:
 

ooo~Shiney!

Brilliant_Rock
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This is so interesting, thank you Pandora !!!
I loved your thread / pictures of your trip to the Moonstone mine as well...

Any time you want to share some pictures, I would love to see them !!!! :sun:
(any pictures of the food?)
 

Pandora II

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Here's a few random photos:

First - a shot from a place called Ella's Gap in the Highland region looking down towards Horton's Plains and the low-lying areas. Ratnapura is to the South-East.

30599_10150200525685363_573075362_12735114_1278889_n.jpg
 

Pandora II

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A few less than friendly wild elephants we met down at the bottom! Forget the Tamil Tigers, the only time I've ever been scared in SL was when these three charged us!

30599_10150200526600363_573075362_12735202_5833859_n.jpg
 

Pandora II

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Having way too much fun... was there for about 5 hours, husband amused himself taking photos. All the guys sitting there had large bags of stone parcels for me to see - the queue went out of the door, down the corridor and down the stairs! I was working with only loupe and penlight as there isn't really time to do much more if you want to get through seeing all the goodies!

It was one of the most frightening things I have done in my life! These guys are experts and they know in 20 seconds if you know what you are doing or not. I came out okay and was very thankful to a lot of people who warned, advised and taught me - and to various people's books which were worth the weight - hello Mr. Wise!

mine owner 1.jpg
 

Pandora II

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Sri Lankan weather...

Actually, I joke... it does rain a lot in certain parts (like Ratnapura) and especially in the monsoon seasons, but it is one of the most wonderful countries and has some of the best beaches in the world. The people are incredibly friendly and nice and I've always had a great time out there. Well worth considering for a holiday.

If you want to buy stones safely then there are lots of gem-shops that are licensed by the government - plus you can have them tested at the National Testing Lab in Colombo for free (they won't tell you if it's heated or anything, but they will tell you if it's natural and what kind of stone it is).

30599_10150200561670363_573075362_12736517_6154394_n.jpg
 

Pandora II

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Last one...

This isn't one of my photos, but is of the food served at the hotel I stayed in. You get rice and the main curry and then there are lots of other bits that you can get with it - curried pumpkin for example.

It tastes amazing but isn't served the way it is in the West. For example, a chicken curry in London will consist of pieces of chicken breast in the curry sauce. Here it will be a leg or wing or whatever complete with bone, gristle etc. I like chicken that way, but I've seen people look a bit taken aback when it doesn't look just like their Indian take-away!

Ph452.jpg
 

ooo~Shiney!

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WOW those photos are most excellent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe you were charged by elephants ~ SCARY !!!!!! What did you do ????
The little fuzzy top baby is a cutie though !!!

That food looks MARVELOUS !!!!
I would love to taste it !

Monsoon :shock: ~ I hope to never experience one ( I grew up in Washington state, I have seen enough rain in my lifetime)

The country looks beautiful ! I actually have a friend that was married for a time to a Sri Lankan....
She has some amazing stories to tell....

I love to think about going to places, but you are very adventurous !!!
I love these pictures....
 

Pandora II

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ooo~Shiney!|1306777045|2933794 said:
WOW those photos are most excellent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe you were charged by elephants ~ SCARY !!!!!! What did you do ????

That food looks MARVELOUS !!!!
I would love to taste it !

Monsoon :shock: ~ I hope to never experience one ( I grew up in Washington state, I have seen enough rain in my lifetime)

The country looks beautiful ! I actually have a friend that was married for a time to a Sri Lankan....
She has some amazing stories to tell....

I love to think about going to places, but you are very adventurous !!!
I love these pictures....
Luckily we were with a tracker and he just said something and they stopped - they are totally wild elephants so it's not as if they were trained to respond. We were incredibly lucky and saw around 200 wild elephants that afternoon
The little fuzzy top baby is a cutie though !!!. One young tusker came very close to see who we were and what we were doing but not in an aggressive way like these 3!


I grew up in Micronesia in the 1970's and by the time I was 8 I'd been round the world several times. My parents look us trekking in the Himalyas when I was 7, to see snake farms in Thailand, to see temples in Katmandu in Nepal and pretty much any other place they could think of.

The island I grew up on literally had nothing so I didn't have any idea about mod-cons like air-conditioning or hot running water till we moved back to the UK in the early 1980's. I also like very high temperatures and high humidity so I don't suffer like many Westerners do in these places.

I'm also pretty laid-back about travelling in general. The last time I was in Sri Lanka I was on my own and took my baby daughter - she had a great time and really enjoyed the flights (17 hours each way). Spoilt rotten by everyone!
 

minousbijoux

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Pandora:

I have said this before but I really mean it. I know you are super independent, experienced and definitely knowledgeable on so many levels about gemstones. If you are ever looking to organize a group, I would love to meet up with you in Sri Lanka or be a part of a group if you were to put one together. You sound like a kindred spirit in the way you travel, but my kids are older so I could get my kid fix through your lovely daughter(s?). I love the picture of her following behind you in a mine in Ireland or Scotland, but I digress...

Anyway, I love the pics!
 

ooo~Shiney!

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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minousbijoux|1306781310|2933835 said:
Pandora:

I have said this before but I really mean it. I know you are super independent, experienced and definitely knowledgeable on so many levels about gemstones. If you are ever looking to organize a group, I would love to meet up with you in Sri Lanka or be a part of a group if you were to put one together. You sound like a kindred spirit in the way you travel, but my kids are older so I could get my kid fix through your lovely daughter(s?). I love the picture of her following behind you in a mine in Ireland or Scotland, but I digress...

Anyway, I love the pics!
I'm laid-back too !!!!!
I'm in !!!! :sun:
 

kt

Shiny_Rock
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Jan 30, 2003
Messages
286
I've been a lurker for awhile now, learning as much as I can about colored stones - specifically, sapphires! (I feel like you are all so knowledgeable so I don't have a lot to contribute 8) ) And just got a gorgeous blue Ceylon. I just wanted to say thanks so much for posting these pics - it's so awesome to see where my stone came from - very cool!!!

Plus, I have a friend/colleague who is from Sri Lanka - i'll have to talk to him more about his beautiful country!
 

dreamer_dachsie

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Pandora where can I learn more about your buying adventure, pictured above?
 

kenny

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Cool info and pics Pandora.
Thanks for posting.
 

Pandora II

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minousbijoux|1306781310|2933835 said:
Pandora:

I have said this before but I really mean it. I know you are super independent, experienced and definitely knowledgeable on so many levels about gemstones. If you are ever looking to organize a group, I would love to meet up with you in Sri Lanka or be a part of a group if you were to put one together. You sound like a kindred spirit in the way you travel, but my kids are older so I could get my kid fix through your lovely daughter(s?). I love the picture of her following behind you in a mine in Ireland or Scotland, but I digress...

Anyway, I love the pics!
LOL, that's very flattering of you - not sure I'd be very good at it but will tuck the idea away and think about it!

There are people out there that organise trips where you can see all the usual tourist stuff plus visit gem-mines, turtle hatcheries etc and then spend some time on the beach. The people that do the specialised gem ones are very knowledgeable and I've heard the trips are great fun.

Just the one daughter who turned 2 last week - and trust me she is staying an only child (she will have only herself to blame for lack of siblings!)
 

bright ice

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Thank you Pandora for your contributation of photos. Very interesting. I wish I just had a 10th of your knowledge about gems.
 

tyty333

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Love your photos pandora! What a great experience (one of your many I'm sure)!
 

gayani

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i know this is an old topic but i just read it and can't stop my self from commenting because I'm from Sri Lanka. to all of you who posted--- thank you so much for the nice things you have said about my country and the interest you have. :) nice photos too.
 

kenny

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Pandora, thanks so much for all your wonderful accounts and pics.
It is like being there. :appl:
 
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