Ratnapura is located in the South West of Sri Lanka, which is known as the “City of Gems”. It lies at the foot of Adam’s Peak and close to Sinharaja Rain Forest. It is also the gateway to the hill country from the Southern plains taking you through the paddy fields, rubber plantations and tea estates. The opportunity to see a variety of precious stones such as rubies, sapphires, cat’s eyes, topaz, garnets, aquamarines, zircons and many more can be arranged by visiting one of the museums or the many gem workshops in the area. The variety of different stones found together invariably at one site is considered as a unique feature of the occurrence and distribution of gemstones in Sri Lanka. Using primitive techniques to extract anything worth investigating is found in a gravel bed usually. Mining and trading of gems is an integral part of Sri Lanka’s history and trade. The Ratnapura gem museum is a great place to learn about gem mining in Sri Lanka, which was established by a local gemologist for educational purposes.
Sri Lanka has been known as the “Land of Gems” throughout history as it has produced three of the world’s largest Blue Sapphires including the Blue Belle of Asia which adorned the British crown and which holds the world record for any sapphire sold at an auction as well as the Star of India which is displayed at the New York Museum of Natural History.
A great ruby was procured by King Solomon for the Queen of Sheba from Serendib, which was the former name of Sri Lanka. In 1923 AD, Marco Polo expounded on the ruby that once graced the Ruwanwelisaya Dagoba at Anuradhapura as the “a flawless ruby a span-long and quite as thick as a man’s fist”. It is known that Sinbad's visit to the mountains of Serendib, alludes to Ratnapura in Sri Lanka.
Ratnapura being a major crossroad between the southern plains and hill country to the east is widespread throughout the regions as many pits dug in low lying area like valley floors, riverbeds, paddy fields, and other damp places can be seen. The bustling market city which services most of the surrounding towns is being operated by prominent gem dealers in Sri Lanka.
A visit to one of the museums or gem workshops in Sri Lanka will give you the opportunity to see an assortment of valuable stones such as rubies, sapphires, feline's eyes, alexandrite, sea blues, tourmalines and much more. You could likewise visit one of the gem mines to witness the experience of mining.