History of Faceting Gemstones in Sri Lanka.
The earliest recorded history of polishing gem stones in Sri Lanka is from the writings of Arabian traveler ibn batuta he writes of the fine gems found in the rivers of Serendib ( Sri Lanka ) and the craftsmen who faceted them for the king.
Archeologists working on the tombs of Egypt have found Gemstones embedded in the roofs of the kings burial chamber, Modern origin determination tests have reviled these stones to have originated from Sri Lanka thousands of years ago.
This clearly proves our early ancestors were exporting gemstones to the world, Of course early faceting was crude, it was only adding a few flat surfaces to bring out the luster and brilliance of a stone. Today you can still find ancient cut gemstones displayed at the historical museum of Anuradhapura.
The faceting Industry developed around the southern coast . Galle, Ginthota , Beruwala all coastal towns in the south. That’s because the gem trade was mainly in the hands of the Middle Eastern traders who settled ( c 400- 800 A.D ) in the country, they had caravans that traveled inland to buy rough from miners in Rathnapura , Eheliyagoda and other gem bearing areas, they would bring the rough to their home town and process to sell to traders who came from afar.
Our cutting industry was well established by the 19th century, I have found evidence to suggest during the early 1900`s merchants used to bring Australian Opals on sailing ships to Sri Lanka for processing and were re-exported to Hong Kong a main trading hub at that time.
Today most of the machines we use in Sri Lanka are a local copy of the Japanese Imahashi machine, its Accurate, its reliable and its hardy ideal for production faceting, as a spin off industry Sri Lanka now exports faceting machines to all over the world. And Countries like Pakistan (2010) and Tanzania (2013) have sort our cutting technology to improve their cottage industries.
Since the early 1990`s the internet has also helped us develop our industry. Freely available cutting diagrams with detailed instructions have spurred a growth of custom cutters, more tec savy and with higher quality standards.
Sri Lanka has around 150 registered professional lapidaries, and thousands of single craftsmen who work from home.
Our factories now specialize to cater to niche markets, the Swiss watch industry is one of them, where accuracy is measured in microns, each stone is cut to exact specifications and color graded to the exact shade , Our industry supply the industry giants like cartier, patek philippe and mont blanc.
At Crescent Gems our niche market is the film industry, the Hobbit series from a company in New Zealand showcase our lapidary work.
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