Sri Lanka ranks with Myanmar, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand as one of the world’s most important gem bearing nations. The story of Sri Lanka’s gems is as old as civilization itself. Legends, myths and the occult have been associated with the long history of the island’s precious stones.
During the past few decades, many new gemstones and hitherto unknown, yet interesting, gem quality minerals have been discovered. The gem fields ofSri Lankacontain about 75 varieties and sub-varieties of gemstones, some in abundance and some as rarities, which occur both among gem gravels and as components of numerous rock types.
The main varieties of Sri Lankan gems :
Corundum (Ruby, Star Ruby, Star Sapphire, Yellow Sapphire, Golden Sapphire, Padparadscha and White Sapphire), Chrysoberyl (Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye, Alexandrite, Alexandrite Cat’s Eye and Chrysoberyl), Spinel (Blue Spinel, Red Spinel and Mauve Spinel), Topaz (White Topaz), Beryl (Aquamarine, White Beryl and Pearl Green Beryl), Zircon (Green Zircon, Yellow Zircon, Brown Zircon and the very rare Red and Blue Zircon) Garnet (Rose red colored, Red, Mauve, Hessonite Garnet and Spessartine Garnet), Tourmaline (Green and Brown varieties), Quartz (Yellow, White, Brown, Rose and Purple or Amethyst) and Feldspar (Moonstone)
The Blue Sapphire isSri Lanka’s gem supreme. And her blue sapphires are the finest in the world. The highly priced of all gems, it is second only to the diamond in hardness. The world’s largest known sapphire weighing 42 pounds was found in the gem gravels ofSri Lanka. The Blue Giant of the Orient weighing nearly 500 carats and the 400-carat Blue Belle of Asia, which a British multi-millionaire purchased, were also from this country.
Discovery of a new gem mineral is a very rare event. For it implies that the specimens found are at least large enough to be cut as gemstones suitable for jewellery and usually that they are transparent and pleasingly coloured.
From the trade point of view the recovery of a new gem variety of an already known mineral may be much important.
The New Gem Varieties Discovered in Sri Lanka
Ekanite is named after F. L. D. Ekanayake who first found it in a Sri Lanka gravel pit.
F. L. D. Ekanayake
Ekanite is green to brown colored rare stone with chemical composition calcium thorium silicate. Thorium is a highly radio active element and due to this element Ekanite is converted to metamict state. In metamict state Ekanite almost acts like amorphous. By applying heat at certain temperature the metamict state of Ekanite can be restored to crystalline state.
Ekanite is an extemely rare gem. It was discovered in 1953 in the gem gravels at Eheliyagoda, near Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. It is also found at Mt. Sainte Hilaire, Quebec, Canada. Ekanite may be strongly radioactive as defined in 49 CFR 173.403 (greater than 70 Bq/gram) due to the presence of Thorium (Th). Ekanite is almost always completely metamict. Metamictization is a natural process due to radiation bombardment that results in the gradual and eventually complete destruction of a mineral’s crystal lattice leaving the mineral amorphous. Ekanite is found in shades of green and brown as are other metamict gems such as low Zircon and Sphene.
Serendibite was discovered at Gangapitiya, near Ambakotte, Sri Lanka, in 1902 by G.T. Prior and A.K. Coomaraswamy. Prior and Coomaraswamy named the mineral ‘serendibite,’ which is derived from ‘serendib,’ an old Arabic term for Sri Lanka.
Serendibite is rarely found as facet-grade material. Before the 2005 discovery of serendibite in Mogok, Myanmar, there were only 3 known faceted serendibites, which were from the original Sri Lankan find. The serendibite from Sri Lanka and Myanmar is believed to be the only sources for facet-grade material. Sri Lankan Serendibite was an attractive greenish or violet-blue, while the stones from Myanmar are dark black.
In the second half of the 1990’s, gem-quality serendibite was discovered from secondary deposits in the Ratnapura area of Sri Lanka.
The Serendibite is very beautiful bluish green gemstone with following physical properties.
(Ca, Na)2 (Al, Mg, Fe2+ , Fe 3+ )6 ( Si, B, Al)6 O20 Pleochroism: strong, L, Yellowish green/ bluish green/ violetish blue , H = 61/2, SG : 3.44 , RI : 1.697- 1.702 B (-), transparent , Glass body , absorption spectrum: one weak line at 470nm.Inclusions: white finger print inclusions, healed fissure, polysynthetic twining, has been founded at Ginigalgoda,Kolonne,Sri Lanka.
This gemstone’s mineral initially discovered and named in 1903 by Mr. Ananda Coomarasamy, for the locality. The Serendib is an old Arabic name forCeylon.
The First SERENDIBITE
Weight: 0.35 ct.
Colour: Very beautiful light medium Emerald green.Shape: Rectangle
Type of Cut: Face: Emerald cut, Bottom: mix protugees cut.
Locality: Gingalgoda,Kolonne,Sri Lanka
The Second SERENDIBITE Discovered in Sri Lanka
An identification report 10035658 has issued by Dr. Mary L. Johnson , Santa Monica, California in Jan .08 1997, Discoverer: Dr. Dunil Palitha Gunasekara, (Dip Gem, SL & GB) Dealer & Gemologist at Crystals Gallery, Gem Lab, 28, Batugedara, Ratnapura Sri Lanka (1996).
Weight: 0.55ct. Colour: Emerald Green ,Shape: Triangular,Type of Cut: Mix cut, Measurements: 4.98×4.95×2.72mm
The Story , How Dr. Palitha Gunasekara found the Gem
In year 1996, Dr. Palitha was able to purchase a rough transparent, pebble weighs 1.25 ct from a gem merchant in Kolonne. He has preformed it and has given to his gem cutter with some another gems. after cut and polished it, his gem cutter has asked him if this was an Alexandrite. He has examined it under artificial light and has said it was not, because there was no colour change effect.
What exactly was it, then?,
Possibily a konerupine.
Before exporting any gem, Dr. Palitha customarily check it on his refractometer called “GEM LAB” . When he placed this gemstone on glass prism, he has seen very unusual 3 RI redings, R. I : a = 1.697, ß = 1.700 and ? = 1.702, B (-)
He has jumped with joy. His immediate thought was that this might be a new gem variety, because he has never seen such RI readings before in his refractometer. He has tested it several times on same night , same results has come back.
Other day on date 4th August Aug. 1996 he has written a letter a description paper to Professor as Unknown gem, (with above gem details)
” I think this stone may be a new gem variety, if it correct , please mention the name BONNYNITE, That was my be loving mother’s name, I honored her very much.
Price US $ 55555.00
Dr. Gubelin written him , that reject the price and asked him to get an identification report from GIA Laboratory . Then he has sent it to Dr. Mary L. Johnson , GIA ,Santa Monica,California. They issued a identification report 10035658Jan 08th 1997,
Conclusion : Serendibite , Weight 0.35ct.
The story :How Dr.Palitha found the second Serendibite.
One day , Dr. Palitha has examined his old stock of gemstones, He has found a paper packet , wrote as “Doubt stone” ?. By seen the green colour pebble, weight 0.80ct. He has told to his gem cutter, please see another green Serendibite. Then he has tested through his refractometer, has seen the same 3 RI readings.
Both Serendibites has purchased by Prof . Dr. E. J. Gublin. Date :19th June 1999.
DUNILITE A RARE GEM STONE FROM SRI LANKA
Dunilite belongs to the olivine group of minerals, it is a rare mineral and discovered at the Katukubura Hills in the Kolonne area, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. Dr. Dunil Palitha Gunasekara, Gemologist at the Crystals Gallery, Gem Lab, 28, Batugedara, Ratnapura has discovered this new gem variety in 1996.(Dunilite is a trade name only)
Katukumbura hill .
From Ratnapura on the Embilipitiya road to Colombageare and there turn right towards the Kolonne area and have to walk about 2km on a dusty path to the Katukumbura hill.
The Dunilite crystals has found in Gem pit on top of Katukubura mountain,Kolonne,Sri Lanka, in a deep hole about 5m in length , 3m in width, and about 3m deep . Ferroedenite, Hercynite ( Balck spinel) and some iron oxide were find inside a white calcite rock.
In crystal structure someCrystalare very large, some are aggregate crystals. The Dunilite Occurrence at a contact metamorphic mineral in Calcite, associated with ferro edenite hornblende crystals (MON), Iron oxide and hercynite.
DISCOVERY OF METAMICT ALLANITE * IN SRI LANKA
Mr. Palitha Gunasekara has also discovered the Gem variety Metamict Allanite fromSri Lanka. The main varieties of Sri Lankan gems are:
Allanite is very dark in color and seldom cut. The content of the rare earth and radioactive elements causes it to become Metamict with severe damage to the internal crystalline structure.( Dr. Joel E Arem).
Hardness: 6, Specific Gravity: 3.40, Refractive Index: 1.680 Single refraction, Streak Grey. This Gem verity occurrences as rocks inside a gem pit associated with quartz and cassiterite in Goluwahela, Badulla district.
Sizes vary in small rocks to big sizes.( 25.00ct, to 4.0Kg). The Colour is Black and the Outer coat is Brown, The clarity shows Opaque.
This Gemstone has named by Mr. Thomas Allan (1777 _ 1833) Scottish mineralogist, who first observed the mineral Epidote group in 1810.
Mr. DUNIL PALITHA GUNASEKARA
The discoverer of 02 new Gem varieties and new mineral from Sri Lanka
Mr. Dunil Palitha Gunasekara, (Dip Gem, S.L & G.B) Dealer & Gemologist at Crystals Gallery, Gem Lab, 28, Batugedara, Ratnapura Sri Lanka has found new Gem varieties , (1) Serendibite – Gem Quality( 1996)and (2)Dunilite – Olivine (1996). (3) “Metamict Allanite” (2001).
Mr. Dunil Palitha Gunesekara was born in 27th of October 1947 in Nagoda,Kalutara ,Sri Lanka, has married to Mrs Padma and farther of two daughters Deepali and Dinusha. He has studied at St. Aloysius College, Ratnapura (1957 – 1964) in science in English medium, up to O/L Examination. Subsequently Mr. Gunesekara has done Diploma in Gemology at theUniversity ofCeylon Katubedde Campus Moratuwa in 1971.( Preliminary examination in Gemology in 1971 and diploma in Gemology 2002. Mr. Palitha Gunasekara bears life membership in Gemologists Association of Sri Lanka,he is a member of GAGTL London and also client of GIA ( Client No: 30390802) has served as a Lapidarist, Senior – Valuer, and Gemmology – Lecturer, at the state Gem Corporation of Sri Lanka in 1972 to 1991.