Faceting and Polishing of Gemstones
The traditional method of gemstone faceting was carried out through traditional artistry and skilled heritance of a selected few by the use of the ‘Hanaporuwa’ or the Bow Cutting Method by the Gemstone and Jewellery industry of Sri Lanka. However, the commercial demands and the fastidious needs of the international markets has proven the inefficiency of the method to require the application of computer assisted precision technology. As such the industry finally adopted the Professionalism and the Flawless Precision of Japanese technology which was proven to be a “Cut Above The Rest” in comparison to offers of technology made by other nations. The engagement of Japanese Technology together with the natural flair for Gemstone Faceting traditionally inherent within the Sri Lankan Gemstone Cutting community has catalyzed the Sri Lanka’s recognition as the undoubted World’s best source in Free Size Cutting, Calibrated Cutting and Precision Cutting of Coloured Gemstones inclusive of Diamonds.
Gemstone Cutting Industry
The gemstone extracted from mines receives its beauty and the value only when they are properly cut and polished. Therefore, the lapidary industry is as old as the gemstone mining in Sri Lanka. Until early 1970s, cutting and polishing of gems were performed using a traditional machine called Hanaporuwa. Gem cutting machinery too have improved vastly from ancient Hanaporuwa to modern faceting machines with many accessory machinery for calibrating, sawing and performance efficiency are now being employed. Satisfying the modern day requirements of the jewellery industry would never have been feasible with Hanaporuwa type of machines. Since only cut and polished stones were allowed to be exported, many new lapidaries were started to cope with the topaz rush.
The employment opportunities as a professional gemstone cutter has increased global preference for faceted gemstones. This increased demand for professional cutters and thus increased the demand for training facilities. The reputation of the Sri Lanka lapidary and the low cost of labour during the last three decades have increased the demand for service cutting of calibrated stones. The value addition per carat in the calibrated stone industry is estimated to vary between 25-30% for imported stones and 40-100% for local stones. It is estimated that there are around 20,000 cutters in Sri Lanka of which about 5000 are employed in the diamond cutting factories. They process both precious and semi- precious gemstones in free sizes and calibrated sizes.
Precision Gemstone Cutting
Sri Lanka is considered the fastest developing gemstone cutting and finishing center in the world, producing stones as small as 1/3 of a millimeter with zero or very low tolerance according to technical drawings supplied by the customers. Currently Sri Lankan Gemstone Cutting factories are catering to a highly prestigious clientele in the watch and jewellery industry such as Rolex, Mont Blanc, Bvlgari, Cartier, Tiffany & Co. etc.
Sri Lanka has signed along with 41 other countries, the Kimberly Process Agreement (KPA) under KPA, diamond mining, processing and trading countries have agreed to establish legislature to eliminate trade in ‘conflict diamonds’ the term ‘conflict diamond’ is used for diamonds, sales of which are used to finance weapons and machinery in countries where there are conflicts between the legitimate governments and opposing parties.