Sapphire is a precious gemstone that is highly valued for its rich blue color and rarity. It is also the birthstone for September. The majority of the world’s sapphires are mined in Sri Lanka, which has a rich history of sapphire mining dating back to ancient times. In this article, we will explore the different types of sapphire mines in Sri Lanka and the mining process involved.
Sri Lanka is home to several types of sapphire mines, including alluvial deposits, primary deposits, and secondary deposits. Alluvial deposits are found in river beds and are the most common type of sapphire deposit in Sri Lanka. These deposits are formed when sapphires are eroded from the surrounding rock and carried downstream by water. Primary deposits, on the other hand, are found in the bedrock and are the original source of sapphires. These deposits are formed when sapphires crystallize in igneous rocks such as granite. Secondary deposits are a combination of both alluvial and primary deposits.
The mining process for sapphires in Sri Lanka involves a combination of traditional and modern techniques. Miners typically use hand tools to dig pits in the earth, searching for sapphires. The soil and gravel are then sifted through screens to remove the larger rocks and debris. The remaining material is then washed to remove any remaining dirt and gravel. Finally, the smaller stones are sorted by size and color, with the highest quality sapphires being sent for processing.
The processing of sapphires involves cutting and polishing the gemstones to enhance their color and clarity. The stones are sorted by color and size, with the highest quality stones being reserved for use in jewelry. The cutting and polishing process involves using diamond tools to create the desired shape and finish for each gemstone.
One of the unique aspects of sapphire mining in Sri Lanka is the close relationship between miners and the local communities. Many of the miners are from the surrounding villages and have been involved in sapphire mining for generations. As a result, the mining industry in Sri Lanka plays an important role in the local economy, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the country’s overall economic growth.
In conclusion, sapphire mining in Sri Lanka is a complex process that involves a combination of traditional and modern techniques. The different types of sapphire mines, including alluvial, primary, and secondary deposits, each require their own approach to mining and processing. The close relationship between miners and the local community adds an important cultural and economic dimension to the industry. Despite its challenges, sapphire mining in Sri Lanka remains a vital part of the global gemstone trade, providing the world with some of the most beautiful and valuable gemstones on earth.