Sri Lanka is an island nation to the south-east of the Indian peninsula.
Sri Lanka has always been a mining center for a wide variety of gemstones, not just ruby. The island is so prolific in their wealth of gems that the Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans called it “Ratnadeepa,” meaning “Island of Gems.” Many types of gemstones can be found here depending on what you are looking for and which part of the island you are looking in.
Rubies from Sri Lanka often have pink and purple hues modifying their ruby-red hue. Many of what they consider rubies are pink sapphires by American standards.
These are marble hosted stones, which meshes with the typical pink to purple modifying colors. This also means they fluoresce under UV light, and slightly in daylight.
The ruby mines of Sri Lanka are believed to have been the source of the jewels that King Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba. The famed explorer, Marco Polo wrote of a “flawless ruby the size of a man’s arm” after his visit to the region in 1292. Note that this ruby may not have been a ruby, but another deep, red stone since historic distinctions between gems were based purely on color rather than chemistry and crystal growth. However, it could just as possibly have been a large, carving-quality ruby.
Ratnapura (City of Gems) is one of Sri Lanka’s most famous gem producing areas, particularly noted for sapphires and rubies. Because of its long history as a gem capital of the world, Sri Lanka has built up an impressive mine-to-market industry, domestically and for export.
Gem production slowed in the 1990’s due to increasing conflict between the Tamil and Sinhalese ethnicities of Sri Lanka, which was a 30+ year war that did not end until 2009. Gem production in the country may have slowed significantly, but it never stopped.
Other reasons the production remains slow is increased mining restrictions and regulations, and record rainfall leading to difficult mining conditions.