Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they colonised the country in 1505, which was then called Zeylan by the Dutch and later transliterated into English as Ceylon when Britain colonised the land in 1798. Although the country gained independence in 1948 it was known as Ceylon until it was officially named ‘Sri Lanka’ in 1972. Sapphires from Sri Lanka are still fondly referred to as Ceylon Sapphires and are widely used in sapphire engagement rings and other fine jewellery.
Sri Lanka, the island of exotic gems, has a colourful gem mining and trading history of at least 2500 years, if not more. It was once called Rathnadweepa which means Gem Island in Sinhalese. Persian traders endearingly referred to the island as Serendip; presumably because the discovery of such magnificent treasures leads to happiness, good fortune and luck.
For many centuries, Ceylon blue sapphire have been treasured by royal families around the world. Renowned for their allure and range of blues; sapphires are considered a symbol of love, loyalty, power, royalty and wisdom. Some of the most prominent relationships royals have had with sapphires are the Ceylon Sapphire encrusted Imperial Crown of Russia worn by Queen Catherine II of Moscow, the Ceylon blue sapphire brooch given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on the eve of their wedding (also worn by queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Diana’s renowned engagement ring, currently worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
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