Ceylon Sapphire

14.70 ct Ceylon Blue Sapphire
14.70 ct Ceylon Blue Sapphire

Historically, the most famous sources for blue sapphire are Burma, Kashmir and Sri Lanka (known as Ceylon prior to 1972). Of the three, Sri Lanka has been the most prolific producer. Kashmir sapphires are now almost non-existent, since no new material of any significance has been found in the last 100 years. Burma still produces some fine sapphire, but most mining there is focussed on ruby.

It is remarkable that Sri Lanka is not only the most productive source for sapphire, but the sapphire mines there are among the oldest known. According to historical accounts, Ceylon was already known for sapphire by the 2nd century A.D. and there was an active international trade in Ceylon gems by the 4th and 5th century. Many of the most famous sapphires in the world come from Sri Lanka, including the Star of India (563 cts) and the Logan Sapphire (423 cts).

Unheated Blue Ceylon Sapphire
Unheated Blue Ceylon Sapphire

Today Ceylon sapphire faces competition from new finds of high quality material from Madagascar. But Sri Lankan stones continue to be an important factor in the market. Ceylon sapphire has been valued for its vivid color, that tends towards a lighter and brighter blue than the dark blue sapphires from Australia and Thailand.

Since Sri Lanka is a small country -- smaller than Ireland and Austria -- the quantity of sapphire mined there is quite astonishing. In fact sapphire was so plentiful in Ceylon that lower grade material had been ignored. The lower grade material was pale and cloudy from an excess of titanium. In the 1970's gem labs in Thailand discovered a way to turn these geuda sapphires an attractive vivid blue. This new heat treatment brought a flow of new Ceylon sapphire on to the market, as stockpiles of once unusable material became saleable.

Sri Lanka Map

More recently, Ceylon sapphires have been heated with beryllium to create vivid blue and bright yellow sapphires from pale and poorly colored material.These lattice-diffused sapphires are selling for surprisingly high prices and the yellow sapphires in particular have been well accepted in the gem trade.

The traditional center of sapphire mining is in southern Sri Lanka around Ratnapura ("City of Gems"), southeast of Colombo. Though Sri Lanka is most famous for blue sapphire, the full range of sapphire colors is found there, including pink, yellow, green, violet and the rare pink-orange called padparadscha. The yellow sapphires are often found in large sizes (over 5 carats) and unheated material, though rare, is still available in the market. Pink sapphires are rare and are mainly found in smaller sizes (under 2 carats).

Click here to see all our fine blue sapphire from Ceylon, Burma and Madagascar
 Email to a Friend Friend's Name:
Friend's Email:
Your Name: