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Kate gets gift from Lanka

Sri Lanka’s sparkling connection to the royal wedding has become brighter after Kate Middleton was gifted a Ceylon sapphire studded diamond hairpin by the Island nation for her marriage.

entertainment Updated: Apr 30, 2011 00:36 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Sri Lanka’s sparkling connection to the royal wedding has become brighter after Kate Middleton was gifted a Ceylon sapphire studded diamond hairpin by the Island nation for her marriage.

Middleton already wears a Sri Lankan Blue sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring, coming from the late Princess Diana, the mother of the groom, Prince William. Princess Diana wore the same engagement ring when she got married to Prince Charles in 1981.

The state-owned Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Authority (SLGJA) said the hairpin gift was in appreciation of the British Royal family's association with Ceylon Sapphires over many generations.

"This is the first ever international campaign aimed at raising awareness about the rarity and value of the Ceylon Sapphire," Macky Hashim, the SLGJA Chairman, was quoted by the government’s official website, news.lk as having said.

Hashim said sales of Ceylon Sapphire replica rings were in big demand since the announcement of the Royal wedding and the UK already is positioned amongst the top fifteen buyers of Sri Lankan gems.

The hairpin will complement the engagement ring. `The blue sapphire alone is 12-carat while the 14 solitaire diamonds clustered elegantly around it are set in 18-carat white gold which had cost £28,500 (45,000) USD at the time of purchase three decades ago.

Before the Princess of Wales’s death in 1997, the ring was valued at more than £250,000 because of its connection to the royals, and in particular Princess Diana,’’ the Presidential Secretariat had said in a statement about the ring. There has been a long tradition of Sri Lankan gems being used for the jewellery of Royalty in the world. The Sapphire which is set in a Maltese cross at the top of the imperial Crown of State now worn by the Queen of England, Elizabeth 2, also traces its origin to Sri Lanka.

The gem and jewellery industry is among the top foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka along with tea, spices and garments. Annually, the total worth of business in gems, jewellery and diamond is around $ 475 million.

For the last few years -- like in many luxury item sectors -- business was down because of recession. The return of the interest in blue sapphire stone because of the royal wedding could prove lucky for the industry.