The village of Meetiyagoda near Ambalangoda, is where moonstone is most commonly found, concentrated within an acre of land and believed to have been blessed by the moon.
The mysterious gem, as captivating as the full moon gleaming in the night sky, is considered sacred and has been used in jewellery for centuries. The most sought after moonstones have a haunting blue sheen, an effect produced by the orthoclase feldspar, which is found almost exclusively in the gem mines of Sri Lanka. Here, you can even go down into the deep, narrow shafts from which the stones are mined and witness the process yourself.
Moonstone’s are in the semi-precious category and are an important component of the Sri Lankan gem industry. A moonstone is grey in colour and feels cool and smooth to the touch. When polished it has a glow like that of the moon. The finest are bluish in colour and are found in high concentrations by heading inland 7km to Meetiyagoda.
Moonstone has been mined in the sweltering forests forever and in the moonstone mines. 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.