A Celebration of Gemstones: Gem Trade Legacy of Sri Lanka

Renowned as the ‘Island of Gems’ (Ratnadeepa), Sri Lanka stands proudly as one of the top five gem-bearing countries globally. With a rich history in the gem trade, the nation has consistently held a prominent position, drawing attention both locally and internationally. Despite Rathnapura’s prominence in gemstone mining, the untold tales of the Beruwala Pathe Gem Market in the western province of Sri Lanka add more dimension to the nation’s gem legacy.

The Origins of China Fort Beruwala’s Gem Trade

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Rooted in the 8th century, China Fort’s gem trading legacy began with a cultural fusion as Somali and Arabian traders married local women. While lacking bustling gem mining operations, the neighborhood in Beruwala, originally known as Berbereen in the western province of Sri Lanka, resonates with a deep-seated gem trade tradition. China Fort has evolved into the largest market in Sri Lanka for cut and polished gemstones, drawing gem merchants from across the island and facilitating the global exchange of gemstones.

Generational Expertise: Gems of Wisdom Passed Through Time

Different goldsmiths tools on the jewelry workplace. Jeweler at work in jewelry. Desktop for craft jewelry making with professional tools. Close up view of tools.

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In Beruwala, gem buyers and experts inherit a wealth of knowledge spanning generations. Growing up surrounded by gems, these individuals possess a unique skill set that often transcends formal education. The close-knit gem community has produced some of the island’s finest gem cutters and traders. While a trend towards formal gemology education is emerging, the traditional passing down of wisdom remains a cornerstone of this community. Chinafort Beruwala’s gem traders showcase an extraordinary talent—they can discern the authenticity and value of a gemstone with a mere glance or touch, a skill honed by their close relationship with gems.

The ‘Pathe’ Gem Market: A Vibrant Hub of Global Gem Trade

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Situated in China Fort, Beruwala “Pathe” Gem Market is the epicenter of gem trading, drawing merchants from across the island. This is a place where a variety of rare and vibrant gemstones, sourced from both global and local mines, can be found. Every day, thousands of merchants, and buyers from around the world gather at Pathe Gem Street to trade and purchase the finest gems.

Gem Sri Lanka Exhibition: Showcasing Sri Lanka’s Gemstone Heritage at Cinnamon Bentota Beach

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In celebration of Sri Lanka’s gem trade legacy and the vibrant gemstones found on the island, Chinafort Gem Trade Association (CGJTA), in partnership with the Export Development Board (EBD) & National Gem & Jewellery Authority(NGJA), hosts the Gem Sri Lanka Exhibition from 11th to 13th January 2024 at Cinnamon Bentota Beach, the luxury beach resort property of Cinnamon Hotel & Resort adjacent to Beruwala – the property mirrors the luxury and opulence synonymous with the country’s finest Gems and Jewellery.

In conversation with Rizwan Nayeem, Vice Chairman of China Fort Gem & Jewellery Traders Association, who boasts 30+ years’ experience in the gem trade industry, the Gem Sri Lanka exhibition is poised to be a celebration of the vibrant trade in precious stones within the extraordinary landscape of Sri Lanka. With the goal of harnessing the rich potential and presenting it annually to the world through showcasing a wide array of gemstones, the exhibition invites enthusiasts and experts alike to witness the splendor of Sri Lanka’s gemstone heritage.

For more information & registration for the exhibition, visit www.GSLFair.com

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