Beruwala and its Gems Market. Trading in stones usually takes place in an office hired by your broker. Traders scramble to the streets and flock at his request to present their wonders to his customers. We went to artisanal underground mines on the Ratnapura side. Under a suffocating heat, we progressed to the bottom of the mine with our feet sunk in fairly deep water. Once at the bottom we reached a horizontal gallery. Our progress and the extraction of stones was done in the mud with our knees on the ground.
In the alluvial mines of the Kiriella region, we found sapphires, garnets, spinels ... The miners extract gem-bearing gravels (illam) from the bottom of the river using spades. Then, they passed them through a sieve to separate the clay from the gems.
The traditional heating of sapphires is carried out by “burners”. These people blow on the fire in spurts for hours. This heat treatment technique enhances the color of the stone. Sapphires of a milky and semi-transparent color, called "Geudas" can become a magnificent color "blue cornflower" or "royal blue".
Here are two beautiful specimens that were presented to us during the negotiations in Beruwala. The one on the left was 33.33 ct and the one on the right over 10 carats.
The sapphire Padparadscha, king of sapphires, takes its name from the Sinhala word padma radschen which means "lotus flower". These are pink sapphires with a hint of orange or orange with a hint of pink. This color is extremely rare. The main deposits are alluvial and are located in the Ratnapura region.
The mines of Kiriella