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Gem Buying Trips: Sri Lanka |

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RC, in November 2006 at the gem market in Ratnapura, viewing a tourmaline crystal in calcite matrix.

November 2006. RC examines a gorgeous, perfectly terminated, unheated blue sapphire crystal at the Ratnapura gem market. Usually a perfect crystal like this is never faceted or heat treated and sold "as is" to collectors for high prices.

A Sri Lankan "dare devil". Three-wheels and motorcycles are great means to go places in Sri Lanka.

Ratnapura countryside. During November & December, in this interior part of the country, it is sunny in the morning, then it gets cloudy in the afternoon with rainy evenings and part of the night.

Left. A beautiful, painted mural at the shop of our miner friend. It portraits the river mining, gravel washing and cutting process that Sri Lankans have used and are still using nowadays since antiquity.   Middle. RC louping a parcel of yellow sapphires.   Right. A colorful example of Sri Lankan gemstones that are not sapphires.

Main Street in Ratnapura. Ratnapura translates as the "City of Gems".

Ratnapura street

Morning 10:00 AM of every day. Hundreds of people gather to trade gem rough in Ratnapura.

A piece of white sapphire rough.

Lush vegetation nearby a gem mine outside Ratnapura.

Looking down into a mine pit. Usually these pits are 50-60 feet deep. The temperature at the mine site is around 45 degrees Celsius, extremely hot and humid.

Gem gravel washing at the river banks. These methods have remained unvaried since the beginning.

Women from a nearby village come to get rubber wood, at the mine site for domestic purposes.

Girls carrying rubber wood remains back to the village.

Mine worker. Sri Lankans always smile...

RC starting descending a mine pit. A very cool change is experienced in descending the pit.

Mine workers stuffing the walls of a new mine shaft with "Kakille" (not sure about the spelling), a bush-like tree.

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