Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association aims to build country’s global standing
Daily FT: Sri Lanka’s lapidary industry is renowned for its high-quality cutting and polishing techniques. Recognised as one of the best cutting centres in the world, the Sri Lanka lapidary industry is home to highly skilled craftsmen who are talented in retaining the true colour of a stone.
Sri Lanka has been ahead of the lapidary curve for thousands of years. Its traditional craft of gem cutting is a skill passed on from generation to generation with the industry building a wealth of experience and knowledge of gem cutting.
Gems have been a significant part of Sri Lankan history for over thousands of years with the skill of gem cutting dating back centuries. The beauty and skill of cutting stones in Sri Lanka remain in the traditional handmade techniques used. The ‘Hanapoorowa’ , a traditional gem cutting machine is a hand-driven tool that is used to perfectly shape the stone. Since its humble and creative beginnings, the lapidary industry has advanced greatly.
The increase in international demand has required the industry to change up from the traditional method of gem cutting to a more large-scale process with the introduction of more high-tech machinery. Through precision cutting, traditional knowledge and expertise combines with modern technology and innovation to produce a combination of faceting techniques.
The lapidary industry holds extremely high standards that meet international market standards, making its precision cutting techniques sought after in the international luxury watch industry. Luxury watches adorning Sri Lankan gems are a steadily growing sector due to the intricate and precise skills of the lapidary industry.
The lapidary industry now consists of multiple segments from cutting and polishing to colour enhancements. As a result, the industry has opened many job opportunities for the local market. Colour enhancements have become a popular requirement in many international markets and have increased the popularity and growth of the industry further.
Sri Lanka has remained one of the highly picked destinations for gem cutting by international producers due to the technique of cutting stones in a perfect shape with even facets. The exquisite skills developed by our craftsman have made Sri Lankan gemstones stand out the world over.
Although the industry has many strengths it is also faced with numerous issues, starting with the fact that Sri Lanka doesn’t export gems to their full potential. Over the years the increase in demand for gem cutting has created a shortfall in trained labour making it hard for the industry to keep up with the production demands it faces.
Additionally, the infrastructure developed and finance provided to the industry is significantly low, resulting in a lack of technology and high-tech machinery available for production.
“As an industry, our focus is to build Sri Lanka’s standing in the global gem cutting industry as a leader in gem cutting and other services,” says Lapidary Segment Vice Chairman Pinsiri Wijepala.
To strengthen the industry further, it has to counter a few issues they face currently. The industry plans to simplify the process of moving gemstones in and out of the country for both exporters and importers, thus helping to steadily grow the industry.
One of the key issues faced is the lack of modern equipment available in the industry, therefore, the lapidary segment aims to build the industry infrastructure by enhancing the lapidary equipment and technology available.
A significant part of keeping the lapidary industry alive is encouraging young talent to join the segment by popularising the skill of being a lapidarist within the workforce and among school leavers in Sri Lanka.
SLGJA is working tirelessly towards increasing the cooperation between the private and Government sectors, thus far it has made great strides with Government organisations such as the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA), the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute (GJRTI), Vocational Training Authority (VTA), Export Development Board (EDB) and the ministry of industries to help build the Sri Lankan lapidary industry as a major competitor in the global market, which as a result will contribute to uplifting the Sri Lankan economy.
SLGJA believes that there is a huge market yet to be captured and they hope to build a national body that will help Sri Lanka’s lapidary industry grow into being a leader in global markets.
Sri Lankan gems, which are historically known as Ceylon Gems, have been globally renowned with some gems and pieces of jewellery even making into Royal houses of Europe. Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery authorities are currently working to ensure that the country’s gems once again retain the top spot in the international markets. The many trade agreements and concessions enjoyed by the country have also helped boost Sri Lanka’s gem and jewellery industry. This traditional industry has also played a role in the country’s tourism industry as a tourist attraction as well as a much sought after commodity purchased by tourists. The ongoing developments in the country’s gem and jewellery industry and the incentives offered to investments/businesses in the sector offers a lucrative business opportunity for foreign businesses/investors.
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