Moonstone Mining

Today's post is a little delayed, because we were busy watching the Twins *almost* win. (Boo.) But I still met my midnight deadline. Woohoo! Home run for me. When I said I was going to Sri Lanka, some people asked me what the country is known for.  My immediate thought was "my AWESOME FAMILY!" But after some thought I noted: Sri Lanka is known well for three things among many others: textiles, gems, and tea.

And in that vein (ha, ha) we made one more stop before Galle Fort, a visit to a moonstone mine.

Moonstones are more commonly found in Sri Lanka than anywhere else, blue moonstones being a more rare type of the gem. Though I wasn't much of a jewelry person to begin with, I will say that watching gems being mined makes me think even more about what I'm purchasing and how it is produced. (Blood diamonds, anyone?)

Moonstone mining seemed a far less horrifying ordeal than the diamond industry, and that's by a long shot. According to our guide moonstone mining and jewelry making are respectable careers that pay fair wages, and moonstone mining is far, far less dangerous than other types of mining.

In the first part of the process, workers draw wet clay from a shallow moonstone mine, strategically placed over a vein.

Moonstone Mining

In the mine, (no deeper than 30 feet or so) a worker will fill the bucket with clay, which is then brought to the top.

Moonstone Washing

Workers then rinse the clay in a bucket, drawing out the tiny moonstones.

Moonstone Washing

They swish the clay around in baskets, sifting out the stones.

Washed from the clay, moonstones look like this in their natural state:


A white moonstone (above) and a blue moonstone (below.)


After they are cleaned, trained artisans will polish and shape the gems.

Moonstone Artist

A pair of polished moonstones, below:


After the moonstones have been polished they are matched into sets and made into jewelry.

An interesting visit, that's for sure.

As we left the mine, our guide pointed out a rose apple tree along the walkway.

Rose Apples

These tiny tart fruits were one of my favorite discoveries during our visit.

Links of Interest: