A moonstone is grey in colour and feels cool and smooth to the touch. When polished it has a glow like of the moon. Have you ever wondered where that pretty little moonstone on your finger actually comes from?
Moonstone’s are in the semi-precious category and are an important component of the Sri Lankan gem industry. The finest are bluish in colour and are found in high concentrations in heading inland 7km to Mitiyagoda, between Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa.
Moonstone has been mined in these sweltering forests forever and the moonstone mines, little more than muddy rabbit holes, 6m or 7m long, are fascinating as is the process of filtering out the precious stones, cutting them up and polishing them up ready for sale. At the Moonstone Factory you can see or even go down into a narrow shaft where the stones are mined.
The miners climb down a 10-metre-deep shaft on a frame made of strong coconut wood. A machine pumps out water, but all the digging is done by hand. The buckets of soil that are wound regularly to the surface yield around 50-100 rough moonstones a day, though not all of them are saleable quality. It is believed by the villagers that this piece of land, around an acre in extent, is blessed by the moon.
The visitor centre will provide information relative to the stones while the gift shop on the premises sells moonstones along with other gems like topaz, garnets, tiger eye and tourmaline.