The gems of Sri Lanka have been famous since Biblical times. It was to Ratnapura the City of Gems, that King Solomon sent emissaries to procure the jewel which won him the heart of the Queen Sheba.
The largest sapphire in the British Crown is the Blue Belle of Asia, found in a village near Ratnapura.
The best gems to buy in Sri Lanka are sapphires and rubies, although you can also find exquisite cat's eyes, spinels, aquamarines, blue topaz, garnets, tourmalines, amethysts, zircons, moonstones and alexandrites.
When buying gems do not be fooled by friendly people with a "relation" in the gem trade.
Remember you are the buyer. Don't be pressured into making a snap decision. View the stone in both natural and artificial light.
If you are spending a large amount or have a suspicion about authenticity, go with the stone(s) to the State Gem Corporation to get it tested.
This organization is located at 310, Galle Road, Colombo 03.
On the floor below is the Colombo Gem Exchange where most of the best Sri Lankan stones are sold to foreign merchants for export.
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For more travel and background information on Sri Lanka, read our Sri Lanka Guide and the travel tips, helping you to make the most out of your holiday in Sri Lanka.