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Friday, September 5, 2014

GIA Field Researchers Document Sri Lanka's Industry from Mine to Market

Press Release via GIA:

GIA Field Researchers Explore the Island of Jewels
Documenting Sri Lanka’s industry from mine to market, Feb. 2014

Jewelry composed of substantial amounts of 22K gold is popular throughout
Sri Lanka. Photo by Andrew Lucas; © GIA. 
In a Feb. 2014 GIA expedition to Sri Lanka, Field Gemologist Andrew Lucas and Video Producer Pedro Padua gained access to a gemstone world rich in tradition and potential. The team spent two weeks on the island documenting their findings for a series of research articles and videos. The country – known in Sanskrit as “Ratna Dweepa” or “Island of Jewels” – is a centuries-old gemstone source and center for mining, trading and cutting that has made evolutionary and revolutionary changes to its industry over the last two decades, making it a key international participant in the modern market.

River mining involves constant dragging motion with mammoties
to scoop out the illama for washing. Photo by Andrew Lucas; © GIA
The research duo visited gemstone mining, cutting, trading, jewelry manufacturing, pawning, and retail centers and businesses that represented the activity for each market sector. There they discovered a dynamic industry that blends traditional methods and market practices with a definite movement to modernization for the global marketplace. Updated import and export regulations have opened the path for Sri Lankans to acquire rough gemstones from around the world, revitalizing their trade, while a domestic retail, manufacturing and pawning industry for 22K gold jewelry continues to thrive alongside new jewelry markets for younger generations.

At this pit mine in Ratnapura miners haul the overburden and gravel
up in buckets by a hand powered winch. Photo by Andrew Lucas; © GIA.
“I’ve never seen such a complimentary combination of traditional practices, new technologies, skill sets and strategies to meet the needs of future domestic and international markets as in the exotic gem-rich island of Sri Lanka,” said Lucas. “Traditional cutting lives side-by-side with modern technology, producing cuts with the highest standards. Modern business practices incorporate the trading expertise of generations of Sri Lankans, creating a brisk marketplace. And artisanal mining practices blend harmoniously with mechanized mining where logical.”

As Sri Lanka develops their industry some traditional practices, such as the
 mining of this pit with hand tools, prove to still be effective.
Photo by Andrew Lucas; © GIA.
In keeping with its mission to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry, GIA regularly conducts research field trips to important gem and jewelry centers around the globe, incorporating findings into research practices and education programs and relaying information to the trade and public through a series of channels. Findings from the Sri Lanka field trip will be featured in an upcoming Gems & Gemology (G&G) article, as well as field reports and video documentaries on   

About GIA
An independent nonprofit organization, GIA (Gemological Institute of America), established in 1931, is recognized as the world’s foremost authority in gemology. GIA invented the famous 4Cs of Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat Weight in the early 1950s and in 1953, created the International Diamond Grading System™ which, today, is recognized by virtually every professional jeweler in the world.

Through research, education, gemological laboratory services, and instrument development, the Institute is dedicated to ensuring the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, science, and professionalism. Visit

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