Sri Lanka: The Island of Gems
Sri Lanka is a country that is truly near and dear to our hearts at Anpé Atelier Cph. This is where Anpé founder, Line Jacobsen’s journey within the fine jewellery began. Line travelled to Sri Lanka in 2015 and became inspired by the astounding, colorful way of life of the small island country. Everything from vibrant houses, clothing, and food, to colorful temples, markets, nature and most importantly, gemstones.
Sri Lanka has an intense and rich history surrounding gemstones, and was once known as “Ratna-Dweepa,” meaning Gem Island. It is estimated that the island’s gem trading history dates back 3,000 years. Marco Polo even wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world.
“I want you to understand that the island of Ceylon is, for its size, the finest island in the world, and from its streams come Rubies, Sapphires, Topazes, Amethysts and Garnets.” Marco Polo, 1292
Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast of India, and was known as Ceylon after it was colonized by the British in 1796. Still to this day, Sri Lanka is one of the finest sources for sapphires and other gemstones in the world.
Some of the rarest sapphires come from Sri Lanka, such as padparadscha, blue ceylon sapphire, yellow sapphire, and color changing sapphires.
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Sri Lankan Sapphires
Padparadscha are mainly found in Sri Lanka, although there are some deposits located in Madagascar and Tanzania. Some experts insist that only true padparadscha come from Sri Lanka, as for centuries it was the only mine source for these rare stones. The term “padparadscha” is derived from the Sinhalese word for an aquatic lotus blossom, which has an unusual salmon color. Most of these stones have a beautiful color mix of orange and pink.
Blue Ceylon Sapphire
Any sapphire that is sourced from Sri Lanka is technically a Ceylon sapphire. Blue ceylon sapphires, however, are especially special due to their highly desired rich blue color with a high luster. These sapphires have been used in many royal jewellery collections throughout history and give a traditional and classic air to the jewellery they are set in.
Interestingly enough, 98% of high gem quality yellow sapphires come from Sri Lanka. These gems have a wide range of saturation and tones, ranging from light canary to an ultra golden tone. Yellow sapphires can be found in other countries, however they generally harbor heavy secondary color tones.
Color-changing sapphires will show one color in fluorescent lighting and another color in incandescent lighting. It’s almost like owning two stones in one! Most color-change sapphires come from Sri Lanka and Tanzania, with new material being produced recently in Madagascar as well. The color change intensity varies from stone to stone.