Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does Blue Fire offer?
Your gem buying passport to Sri Lanka: Come to Sri Lanka for a first hand gem buying experience. This is a unique opportunity for the professional jeweler or private gem collector looking for a personalized, guided field experience at a world famous and historic gem location.
Why pay retail or even wholesale for your gemstone needs and desires? Come to Sri Lanka for an exciting adventure and select gems from as close to the source as possible. If desired, receive side-by-side personalized assistance from an American field gemologist with over 35 years experience in Sri Lanka.
2. What does Blue Fire do for me while I am in Sri Lanka?
Examine both the rough and polished gems in the world famous gem center of Ratnapura. Spend time with Gordon Bleck, the only foreigner living and working directly in the center of the Ratnapura gem trade for over 35 years. Share a front row seat at the Blue Fire shop in the heart of the action surrounded by local Sri Lankan miners and gem dealers bringing their latest finds directly to you. A truly unique gem buying experience! Visit the nearby gem mines. Climb down directly into a mine shaft if you’d like and dare!
Watch the stones being fashioned from the rough into the “cut and polished" finished product. Have your selection of stones cut or recut to your own specifications by the same cutters that cut the Blue Fire inventory. Experience the life of the colonial British of the past with the safety and conveniences of the present.
Blue Fire is equipped with all necessary testing equipment to insure all stones are genuine. Inclusions will be studied and assessed. Natural or heated stones will be identified as such.
3. How do I get to Sri Lanka?
Please consult your local travel agent for flight availability. Many of our visitors from the U.S. connect through Bangkok, Singapore or Tokyo. Emirates supplies the easiest routes from either coast via Dubai. Some limited assistance and information with air travel can be supplied for flights out of California and reduced fares out of Bangkok. Please inquire.
From Europe there are many direct flights. Please check with your travel agent.
In Sri Lanka you will be met at the airport outside of Colombo by an air conditioned van. Your itinerary will be custom tailored to your desires.
4. Where do I stay?
Accommodations will be arranged according to your preferences. There are B&Bs, small hotels and some guests even stay at Gordon’s art deco, colonial villa just 2 km from the center of the Ratnapura gem trade
5. What do I eat?
Both local “rice and curry” and western foods are widely available. The local “rice and curry” has a tendency to be both spicy and hot (even though served at room temperature!). If you stay at Gordon's villa his private chef will personally prepare all your meals and snacks with the freshest and healthiest of local ingredients. A true epicurean delight!
6. How do I get around locally?
While in Ratnapura your transport will be taken care of. If you wish to tour, cars and vans for hire are widely available at very reasonable rates. For less than the cost of an economy car rental in the western world, you can have a luxury van WITH driver!
7. Are there other side trips to take?
Other destinations in Sri Lanka can be included, also according to your interests. Sri Lanka has a wealth of various attractions from white sand beaches to lush hill country spotted with water falls, tea estates and Buddhist temples to primeval forests and ancient cities.
8. What types of gems will I see?
Ceylon, the British colonial name for Sri Lanka, is a historically famous gem source and continues to be a current world supplier. You can expect to see:
• Sapphires in blue, pink, yellow, purple and color change (blue & purple)
• Padparadsha sapphires and Ruby
• Star sapphires in a variety of colors
• Natural sapphire crystals
• Chrysoberyl, chrysoberyl cat’s eye and alexandrite
• Spinel in a variety of colors and star spinel
• Rhodalite, hessonite, spessartite and color change garnets
• Green and yellow zircons; dravite tourmaline; aqua marine; orthoclase feldspar (moonstone)
• Rare and unusual gems including: Taaffeite, sapphrine, sinhalite, kornerupine, kornerupine cat’s eye, sillimanite (fibrolite), sillimanite cat’s eye, enstatite, scapolite, ekanite, rutile cat’s eye, cassiterite, scheelite, etc., with over 40 varieties of gem stones found on this most prolific island!
Of course these stones are offered according to availability. Some are very rare and although a wealth of variety is offered, one should remember this is not a supermarket or department store and all your desires may not be fulfilled in a short period of time.
9. How does gem buying work and how do we handle the money?
Local banks can handle credit card cash advances, traveler’s checks or cash. Bank to bank transfers are also easily arranged. More information is available upon request.
10. What is the deal with customs and duty when I take the gems back to the USA or to the EU?
Purchases here can be hand carried when you depart or exported to any address desired through the Sri Lankan State Gem & Jewelry Authority. (Government fees for these services are very reasonable.) Loose gems of Sri Lankan origin brought back to the US are duty free (at the time of this publication). If purchased on a commercial level an import agent should be arranged to handle the paper work for a commercial import (these are also duty free).
European countries and Canada each have their own rules and regulations concerning duties for “tourist” and “commercial” purchases which should be checked into before departure from your home country. More information is available upon request.
Sri Lanka is hot and tropical all year.
Located approximately 6 to 9 degrees above the equator, you don't need much in the way of warm clothing! Light cotton or other “tropical weight”, loose fitting, casual clothing is all that is needed. Long sleeves may only be needed if you venture up into the high hill country, and then only at night. Light gauzy long sleeves are helpful in the evening but usually you will want short sleeves for day time. Forget shoes and socks! You will want sandals for the coolness and the fact that it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home or temple.
PLEASE keep in mind that we are here to help. More information is available upon request. Let us know you are interested and give as many details as possible! We will be glad to help and make some recommendations.
If your question was not answered or if you would like to begin making plans to visit then please contact us.