Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2020, Vol. 56, No. 1

New Blue Sapphire from Rakwana, Sri Lanka

Rough and cut sapphire from Rakwana, Sri Lanka.
A 49.99 ct rough sapphire crystal (5.8 cm in length) and a 33.16 ct cut stone with exceptional color from the 2019 Rakwana find. Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA.

The town of Rakwana, in southern Sri Lanka, has been known for decades as a premier source of royal blue sapphires. Often, a simple mention that a gemstone is from Rakwana will immediately explain the price and quality. In August 2019 a small pocket yielding numerous large sapphire crystals was discovered in the nearby Sinharaja Forest area of the Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province. What was unique about this find was the quality and size of the lustrous crystals. The 49.99 ct rough crystal in the figure above, measuring 5.8 cm in length and 1.6 cm at its widest point, was one of about 60 found in August 2019. It was also the largest complete crystal found. The beautiful 33.16 ct gem beside it was cut from a 207 ct piece of rough, the end of a large portion of a crystal. This crystal and cut gem rival the famous ones from Kataragama found four years ago.

Jennifer Stone-Sundberg and Tao Hsu are technical editors of Gems & Gemology, and Robert Weldon is director of GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center in Carlsbad, California. Dudley Blauwet is owner of Dudley Blauwet Gems in Louisville, Colorado.