Largest sapphire cluster in Switzerland
At the Sunday Morning Business Desk
Part of the sapphire star cluster, which was discovered a few months ago in Sri Lanka and is considered to be the largest in the world, is currently in the test phase in the Gübelin Gem Lab in Switzerland, after which the entire star cluster will be auctioned in Switzerland itself, The Sunday morning business learns.
A senior official with the State Ministry of the Gemstone and Jewelry Industry, who wanted to remain anonymous, told us that the unearthed gemstone, which was due to be auctioned in China this month, will now be sent to Switzerland after the gemstone laboratory exam has been completed.
“According to the plan, the tests will be carried out within two weeks, after which further measures will be taken that are necessary for the auction of the gemstone in Switzerland,” said the official.
Continuous attempts to reach the Minister of State for the Gemstone and Jewelry Industry Lohan Ratwatte by the time this issue went to press have proven in vain.
Speaking to us in August, Ratwatte said: “After the auction, we (the government of Sri Lanka) expect to bring the money back to Sri Lanka.”
The star cluster was discovered accidentally in a backyard in Ratnapura and reported six months after it was discovered. The cluster was valued at more than $ 100 million. Experts say the sapphire is pale blue in color and weighs around 510 kg.
On a previous occasion, speaking to The Sunday morning business, said Ratwatte that the delay in the announcement was due to the cleaning and analysis process and the stones would have to be handed over to the National Gem and Jewelry Authority.
Ratwatte also stated at the time: “There are already many interested parties. As a collectible, this would likely go to a museum or similar location. There are many inquiries. However, we have to certify the stone first. This process is currently taking place. ”
This cluster discovery came at a time when the Sri Lankan gem industry was ranked the hardest hit, with exports falling by more than 50% due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
In May, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewelery Association (SLGJA) chairman Ahsan Riffai said the industry had not received much support from the government and that the hardest hit players in the industry were small operators as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs ).
“The pandemic has to end and the borders have to open, as gemstone and jewelry companies, unlike other companies, rely on buyer and seller contacts affected by the pandemic,” he said.
However, earlier this year the government had announced that it would take further steps to expand the local gemstone and jewelry industry market for foreigners to purchase high quality gemstones and jewelry in Sri Lanka.
Commenting on his move, Riffai pointed out that it will be difficult to grow the industry at the moment, although there is potential for the industry to rise by exporting to China and Canada after the pandemic.
The main gemstones found in Sri Lanka include sapphire, alexandrite, cat’s eye, padparadscha aquamarine, and moonstone, among which the blue sapphire is the most famous colored gemstone. In general, all precious and semi-precious stones except diamonds are called colored stones.
The government last year eased income tax from 14% on the gem and jewelry industry. It was also decided to remove the barriers that had hindered the release of uncultivated land with gemstone deposits from plantation companies and to take control of this land in favor of the mining industry. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed officials last year to expedite construction of the proposed gem trading complex and training center in Demuwawatha, Ratnapura.