Thilak Weerasinghe | Chairman & CEO
Tel : +94 112 390 650 / +94 112 329 352 | Fax : +94 112 328 939/ +94 112 320 971
Email :

Pradeep Thenuwara | Director General
Tel :  +94 112 441 188 | Fax : +94 112 329 697
Email :
Website :


“Sri Lanka – to be the Sapphire Capital”


Achieve industry Excellence Through the Development Promotion & Regulation of the Gem & Jewellery Sector to Generate National Wealth and Stakeholder Delight

Sri Lanka the Sapphire Capital

Sri Lanka is the only country in the world that had produced extraordinarily large gem-quality blue sapphires over the years. The fact that the world’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd largest faceted blue sapphires are all of Sri Lankan origin is a little cause for surprise. The very early history of the Blue Giant was well documented. An August 1907 “Blue Giant of the Orient” had been mined in Sri Lanka’s Ratnapura district. In fact, even the world’s largest rough sapphire crystal, weighing 42 pounds (19 Kg) and 466-carat.The 2nd and 3rd largest blue sapphires are respectively, the 422.99-carat “Logan Blue Sapphire” and the 400-carat “Blue Belle of the Orient.


Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery industry employs nearly 650,000 people. They include miners, cutters, polishers, dealers, jewellery designers, manufacturers, craftsmen, marketers, gemologists and sales people. The gem industry employs 325,000 miners, 72,000 gem cutters and 895 gem exporters. The methods of cutting and polishing gems comprise both the traditional method of hand-cutting and the electronically at state-of-the-art lapidaries. Sri Lanka enjoys the enviable position as the fastest developing gem cutting and finishing centre in the world. It produces stones that meet the highest international standards. The main international market for Sri Lankan gems includes the United States of America, Japan, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Traditional jewellery worn by Sri Lankans are handcrafted and intricately designed. Simple and contemporary designs are made to meet international demand.



Sri Lanka is a world leader in the production of fine quality gems. The country is gifted with over 70 varieties of gems scattered in a large area at high density. The gem industry has high potential for value addition, profitability and employment generation. This industry will be developed rapidly through the initiatives highlighted below.


Sri Lanka’s State Gem Corporation was established on 1st November 1971, under the chairmanship of the late Mr. T. G Punchiappuhamy. Subsequently, by Act No. 50 of 1993, the National Gem and Jewellery Authority was established to develop the jewellery industry in Sri Lanka.

What we do?

  • Promote and develop the gem and jewellery industry
  • Initiate and implement schemes for the promotion and development of the Gem Industry
  • Engage in the market for gems, both in Sri Lanka and outside
  • Promote and sponsor technical training of personnel in every aspect related to the Gem and Jewellery Industry (including heat treatment and gem cutting for example)
  • Generate confidence among prospective buyers in the gem and jewellery industry
  • Prevent unlawful gemming and removal of gems from Sri Lanka
  • Providing technical advice and infrastructure support necessary for the marketing of Gems and Jewellery
  • Establish offices for the certification of gems and assaying of precious metals
  • Regulate and control terms and conditions of gem industry employees with focus on work place safety.



For over a decade, the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) developed its code of ethics, values and philosophies. At the same time, NGJA commits itself to the development, promotion and regulation of the Gem and Jewellery industry in Sri Lanka. Ethics, values and philosophies pursued and practiced by NGJA have helped enhance its reputation worldwide. Our values are highlighted below.

  • TRUST – To implement industry development programs while nurturing the earned trust of all stakeholders.
  • COMMITMENT – Motivate and inspire staff members to work selflessly with commitment to meet challenges and contingencies confronted by the industry.
  • PASSIONATE WORK ATTITUDE – Maintain a work environment that motivates employees to work in an efficient manner with a passionate, positive attitude.
  • TEAM SPIRIT – Accomplish organisational goals through positive team spirit to achieve a productive outcome. EFFICIENCY Achieve greater productivity, services and processes by adopting current global practices and technological advancements.
  • PERFORMANCE & INTEGRITY – Sustain earned trust whilst demonstrating high levels of organisational and personal honesty and integrity when performing official engagements.
  • INNOVATIVENESS – Identify and select new ventures, opportunities, innovations and solutions to efficiently meet current and future requirements of the Gem and Jewellery industry and the nation.
  • TECHNOLOGICAL SUPERIORITY & OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY – Achieve greater productivity, services and processes by adopting current global practices and technological advancement.


Gem mining is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest employment generating industries. The responsibility of protecting jobs and ensuring safety lies with the National Gem and Jewellery Authority.

There are various techniques used to extract various minerals including gemstones.


The process of mining for gems begins at an auspicious time followed by a brief religious ceremony. The most popular method is mining in pits (depth 2ft – 25ft) and tunnelling. Surface gemming and dredging riverbeds are other methods. The method depends on the nature and the location of the gem deposits. Gems are generally concentrated in a layer of coarse pebble like material with clay and fine sand. This ‘gem gravel’, known as ‘illam’, is usually found below alluvial deposits. The pits are shallower and circular when illam is close to the surface. The deeper pits, however, have a rectangular shape. Scaffolding is made using planks and staves. The space between the staves and earth is stuffed with leaves to prevent the walls from collapsing while water is pumped out using motors. Tunneling is opted for only if the illam vein runs horizontally. The illam in pits are excavated using crowbars while river dredging is done using mammoties. Traditional mining is generally done manually on a small scale.


Mining can caused considerable environmental impact. Therefore, restoration of land after mining is very important. The top layer of the land is the most important part for re-cultivation. The miner should ensure that topsoil is safely stored aside and replaced after closing the pit. This is not an easy task with traditional mining as the excavation area in the top layer is very small. Removing the top layer in large areas is usually done in the mines used machinery. The second important part of the land that one should take care of is the layer of the clay, if any. This layer is very important as it ensure the balance of the water table. In some places at Elahera, the high water table (6ft) prevalent in mining sites and alluvial deposits (gem gravel) at a depth of 20-25 ft, require the use of mechanized excavators. In traditional mining, only the illam within the mine and tunnel are taken out while the balance remains undiscovered under the earth. However, with mechanized mining, a very large area could be covered resulting in a rich harvest of illam.


Up until the early 1979s, the traditional method of gem cutting ‘Hanaporuwa’ was used by the gem and Jewelry industry of Sri Lanka. Over time, this system proved to be inefficient. The industry began to look for a new system. Systems from countries such as Japan, Thailand and Switzerland were experimented with. Finally, the Japanese system was recognised as most efficient.

Free size stones – Valuable stones are cut to the biggest possible size irrespective of measurements such faceted stones are termed free size, but in current context so called free size stones are also sized/cut to the nearest millimeter size to become easily mountable into readymade Jewellery.

Calibrated Stones – Stones cut to specific sizes to be mounted in cast Jewellery. Standard sizes are measured in millimeters for different shapes such as round, oval, pear, heart, square, rectangular etc, with a tolerance of 0.1mm.

Precision cut stones – Stones cut to exact sizes with a minute tolerance of 0.05 such stones are used in both high end Jewellery industry and watch industry. Overall size of the stone may be as small as one fourth or one fifth of a millimeter in diameter.


Heat Treatment

Heat treatment of gemstones to improve the colour and clarity and thereby the vault of gemstones is as old as the gem industry in Sri Lanka. During early days, rubies with a touch of blue or a sapphire with a brownish tint were heated with the aid of a charcoal hearth and a blow-pipe.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces are used to convert Geuda (Semi Precious stones) into high value precious stones such as Blue sapphires, White Sapphires, Rubies and Yellow Sapphires while treating under either reducing or oxidizing conditions. Temperature up to 1950 °C can be achieved and unique design features facilitate effective temperature control and this helps to give desired time and temperature combinations for different types of gems.

Blow Pipe Heat Treatment

The use of charcoal hearth with a blow-pipe to heat treat corundum is now seldom used as it took long hours of work and it proved to be tedious to control the temperature in the room.

Electric Furnaces

Electric resistance furnaces consist of a process control microprocessor component integrated with the programmer / controller governing all furnaces. A thermocouple continuously transmitting signals to the programmer/ controller. A thyristor (SCR) supplies the transformer with the appropriate electric signals. Accordingly sufficient amperage is delivered to the resistance elements installed in the heating chamber. As a result of the electric resistance, heat is produceded from the elements and the chamber is heated.


NGJA’s Gem Testing laboratory was established in 1972 and entrusted with the task of issuing gem testing reports. This gained the country confidence and integrity in the international gem trade. This laboratory is currently staffed with foreign-trained gemmologists who hold internationally accepted professional qualifications. The laboratory provides a free gem testing service to tourists and issues reports at reasonable fee. These services are provided by laboratories functioning at the NGJA head office-Colombo, World Trade Center (WTC)-Colombo, Galle & Ratnapura. A Gemstone Brief Report , Gem Testing Report incorporating an image of the gemstone being tested are also issued. A mobile gem testing service is also to be launched to cover Jewellery manufacturing and gem trading areas in the south covering Beruwala, Galle, Matara, Hambantota etc with expectation of expansion of the service throughout the country as and when the need arises to promote consumer confidence and ensure consumer protection.

Analytical Instruments for Gem Testing Laboratory

  1. Ultraviolet – Visible Near Intra – Red Spectrometer (UV-Vis-NIR)
  2. Raman Spectrometer 3. Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (ED – XRF)
  3. Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS)
  4. Diamond grading instrument set
  5. Pearl grading instrument set


According to the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) Act, it is a punishable offence to conduct the following activities without a valid license issued by the NGJA.

  • Gem mining • Gem cutting • Gem trading • Gem auctions • Jewellery shop registration

The offices of the NGJA functioning in Ratnapura, Eheliyagoda, Naula, Monaragala, Matara and Colombo regulate the above activities in the respective regions. Enforcement offices are also present at Nivitigala, Pelmadulla, Embilipitiya, Lunugala, Rakwana, Horana and Balangoda. The Gem and Jewellery industry takes great pride in enhancing lives by providing ample job opportunities to communities around Sri Lanka. Individuals in the private sector are encouraged to invest in the industry through ownership of gem mines. This provides local miners, suppliers and transporters with job opportunities.


National Gem and Jewellery Authority facilitates local gem sellers to promote and trade their products via official web site of the authority. The endeavour of the authority is to enhance the market place and gain tremendous commercial advantage that a Government backed auction.

This facility eliminates illicit smuggling of gemstones and ensures a strong sales platform for international market while consolidates the importance of credibility to buyer groups which purchase super luxury items such as Gem stone and Jewellery. The Online Selling would indeed offer the choice of vividly displaying Omni directional Physical Appearance of the Gemstone using digital Photography inclusive of all Certifications of interest to allure international buyers to their product.


Assay Office – Chemical laboratory which provide the services of Assay & Hallmarking of precious metal jewellery 3Locations – Colombo and Galle

Services –

  1. Assaying (Chemical analysis) of Gold, Silver & Platinum jewellery/ alloys
  2. Hallmarking (Quality Certification) of Jewellery. Equipment and methods used –

Analyzing methods

  1. Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy – AAS
  2. Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (EDXRF)
  3. Cupellation method of Gold assay
  4. Potentiometric Titration System

Hallmarking Methods

  1. Hand Marking
  2. Press Marking
  3. Laser Marking





  1. Membership of the Convention on the control and marking of articles of precious metals (Hallmarking Convention) It was signed in Vienna in November 1972 and entered into force in 1975.
  2. Member of International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO)

Mobile laboratory services

  1. Gem testing & certification
  2. Jewellery Testing
  3. Provides awareness about Gems & Jewellery quality
  4. provides remote trading areas and special events such as exhibition


International Gem and Jewellery Trade Fairs provide many opportunities for the development and improvement of the global gem and jewellery trade. In it’s major endeavours to promote the Gem and Jewellery industry in Sri Lanka the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) has made arrangements to organize “Sri Lanka Pavilion” at leading trade fairs and exhibitions in Japan, USA, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, China, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

  • International Jewellery Tokyo (IJT), Tokyo – Japan
  • JCK Tucson Show, Tucson – USA
  • Bangkok Gems and Jewellery Show, Thailand
  • HKTDC Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, Hong Kong
  • Europe Jewellery and Gem Fair, Germany
  • Jewellery Shanghai Show, Shanghai – China
  • JCK Lavagas Show, Las vegas – UAS
  • International Jewellery London, London – United Kingdom
  • China International Jewellery Show, Beijing – China
  • China International Gold, Jewellery and Gem Fair – Shanghai, China

Further NGJA sponsor “Facets Sri Lanka” and “Jewels” Gem and Jewellery Trade exhibitions and organize “National Pavilions” with an intention to encourage the SME’s to participate at the show. It is a good opportunity for local participants to meet local & foreign buyers and develop business contacts with them.


Located in the provincial capital of Sabaragamuwa, the city of Ratnapura is rich in gems and jewels. The town was named Ratnapura through an amalgamation of the words ‘Ratna’ (gems) and ‘Pura’ (city). The city is a crucial part of Gem and Jewellery industry as it is abundant in rubies, sapphires and other precious gems.


Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a history of nearly 2500 years. Then and now gems were a major export product of the island making it world famous for precious stones. From the first Century AD numerous are the scattered references made to the country’s precious and semi precious stones. Archeological evidence has proved that even in pre-historic times gems had attracted the country’s early inhabitants. Valuable pieces of gems were found among tools that early humans used during the Balangoda Civilization which is considered to be over 30,000 years old. The people of that era cherished these stones perhaps because of their beauty and used them for making necklaces and bangles for many years. The first record on Sri Lankan gems is found in the chronicle Mahawansa (Chapter 1;46) according to which Lord Buddha (625 – 545 B.C.) arrived in Sri Lanka in the sixth Century B.C. to settle a dispute between two kings of the Naga tribe – Chulodara and Mahodara over gem studded throne. King Devanampiyatissa who ruled Sri Lanka in the 250 B.C. sent three kinds of beautiful Gems and eight types of pearls to Indian Emperor Asoka as a gift (Mahawansa Chapter 11.22) King parakramabahu 1 (1153 – 1186 A.D.) sent gems and pearls to foreign countries by ships for trade purpose (Mahawansa Chapter 69 : 33) Apart from Mahawansa many other chronicles focus on Sri Lanka’s gem industry. The Indian epic Mhabaratha refers to Sri Lanka’s king “Vibeeshana” sending gems and pearls as a gift to North India’s king Yudeeshdeera in the Kuru kingdom.

These are in addition to the references to Sri Lanka’s gems that foreign travelers, historians and visitors like Fa-hsien , Ptolemy , Marco Polo , Ibn Batuta and Robert knox made in their records of this country in later years.


Jewellery making constitutes one of finest crafts of the Kandy period and specially catered to the requirements of the kings and queens chieftains and ladies of rank. The studding of gems to gold and silver jewellery in a universal practice. In the case of kandian jewellery however , the gems were not faceted. The Sinhalese lapidarist were skilled in obtaining glistening colour of the stones.


Sri Lanka’s jewellery industry has a rich heritage that has contributed towards being globally renowned with main markets in countries such as Japan, Germany, USA, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. Since the beginning of the industry, special craftsmen have passed down their skills from generation to generation, making Sri Lanka the ideal place for those seeking intricate jewellery designed by trained experts. Currently, modern jewellery is mainly manufactured in state-of-the-art factories using computers and machinery for designing, model making and casting. Handmade jewellery is still available in the market and can be purchased for an extravagant price. Until recently, the entire industry consisted of small-scale producers whose capacities were limited and were unable to meet the demand. However, with increased facilities and concessions from the Board of Investment, large-scale manufacturing concerns are venturing into manufacturing jewellery to meet the overseas demands.