For centuries and perhaps the last thousand years, Sri Lanka has reined as the king of the world's gem producing nations. Sri Lanka has been the world's centre for coloured gemstones and from time immemorial has given the world many diverse facets of romantic overtones. Among them is that Prince Charles mesmerised Lady Diana with an engagement ring, set with a priceless Blue Sapphire. The Blue Sapphire is Sri Lanka's gem supreme and can be considered the highest prized of all gems, while being second only to the diamond in hardness. The largest known Sapphire in the world weighing 42 pounds, was found in the gem gravels of Sri Lanka. The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the rough is the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a sparkling gem of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection when acquired by a Saudi prince.
Today, approximately 25,000 men and women are employed in Sri Lanka's jewellery manufacturing industry, according to National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) statistics. Traditional jewellery worn by Sri Lankans is handcrafted and intricately designed. However, to meet the demands of the international market, simple and contemporary designs are introduced. The finished pieces display a high degree of Sri Lankan ingenuity. The major buyers of Sri Lankan jewellery are Germany, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sri Lanka's rare gemstones include: Andalusite, Apatite, Cordierite, Diopside, Ekanite, Dpidote, Euclase, Fibrolite, Florite, Idocrase, Kornerupine, Kyanite, Sinhalite, Scapolite, Taffeite.
Among the outstanding gemstones that Sri Lanka has produced in the contemporary era are the Blue Giant of the Orient (466 carat), Logan Blue Sapphire (423 cts), Blue Belle of Asia (400 cts), Rossar Reeves Star Ruby (138.7cts), Star of Lanka (293cts.), Star Sapphire and Ray of Treasure (105 cts. Cat's Eye). The first three gems are on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington USA. The Star of Lanka and the Ray of Treasure are in the proud possession of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority.