How it works:
- Situation: Sri Lanka is the home of sapphires and unfortunately, gem scams too.
- Opening: a street tout/tuk-tuk driver tells you of a one day festival where you can get discounted gemstones and offers to bring you to a shop.
- Set-up: staff will teach you about gems, even cutting them on glass to prove that they real. These are worthless pieces of colored glass, or heat treated semi-precious stones with forged “authenticity certificates”. Some will let you choose a real gem, but deliver a fake one to your hotel/home country. Note: they claim it takes time to mount onto a pendant, so you can’t collect on the spot.
Places to beware:
- Galle: Galle Fort
What to do:
- Buy: from reputable, licensed stores (e.g. shops at the “Hatton Garden” stretch in Colombo).
- Beware: of gemstones that look flawless, as all natural ones have some impurity.
- Verification: the jeweler must be willing to accompany you to the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Authority in Colombo/Ratnapura to verify gems sold. This is a free service provided by the government to foreigners.
- Recourse: contact the police for help.