The Colours of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is famous for its sapphires. Historically, the deposit in Sri Lanka is one of the big three – together with Kashmir and Burma. The most famous colours of Sri Lankan sapphires are the shades of blue and the padparadscha.
Padparadscha has its name from the Sinhalese (Sri Lankan language) word for lotus flower, padmaraga (padma – lotus; raga – colour). It refers to the presence of orange and pink in the sapphire’s colour.
Overall, the mix of colours in Sri Lankan sapphires are: 70% yellow, 15% blue, 5% violet, 5% pink, 5% others – including padparadscha.
Sri Lankan sapphires often contain silk inclusions. Silk inclusions are needed to obtain the cornflower blue sapphire. The most famous cornflower is perhaps the one found in Lady Diana’s ring. The Blue sapphire of Diana’s ring is commonly thought to be from Kashmir, but it is Sri Lankan and it was actually donated by a Sri Lankan from Pelmadulla, Ratnapura.
Inclusions in general are considered a flaw, but silk inclusions, although barely observable by the human eye, can make the stones more desirable. The silk captures the colours and distributes it throughout the stone – a term used for sapphires containing silk is “sleeping beauty”.
As the environments where you find sapphires in Sri Lanka come from very alluvial soils, all the sapphires have been tumbled in water for millions of years. This makes them rounded, resembling a piece of glass on the beach.