“Sri Lanka lays claim to over 70 coloured gemstones out of 200 found globally including the best blue sapphire of the world, but are we branding our selves properly and getting the benefits of this?” Bandula Egodage, Chairman Export Development Board asked.
“Sri Lanka needs to be re-positioned as the original “Sapphire hub”. We can attract more foreign investment through this initiative especially through value addition. We need to create awareness about the value of our gems, especially the blue sapphire.”
He made these comments while addressing a press conference to announce the upcoming International Coloured Gemstone Association Congress to be held from the 16th to the 19th of May.
Around 300 international delegates are expected including buyers, manufactures and other gem and jewelry academia and professionals.
Sri Lanka’s blue sapphires are known as Ceylon Sapphire and are unique in colour, clarity and lustre compared to the blue sapphires from other countries.
During the 20th century, Sri Lanka’s standing as a premier gem trade center diminished due a failure to adapt to technology such as heat treatment and modern cutting and government regulations that hindered the rapid growth enjoyed by Thailand and other countries.
However, in the last two decades, the island has overcome those setbacks and now has a dynamic and rapidly growing gem and jewelry industry.
“Sri Lanka has developed its mining and processing industry to become one of the most important hubs for gem and jewelry,” Clement Sabbagh, Chairman of ICA congress committee said.
“The most important gem stone, the blue sapphire is mined locally and the local industry is a major sourcing hub for processing sapphires from African origins as well.”