The gem-mining centre of Sri Lanka is also a major crossroad between southern plains and the hill country to the east. This picturesque town is blessed with natural beauty servicing most of the surrounding towns. Many of the prominent gem dealers in Sri Lanka operate from this town. Scenery around the town is excellent and charming. Throughout history, Sri Lanka has been known as a land of gems. King Solomon was said to have procured a great ruby for the queen of Sheba from Ceylon (Sri Lanka's former name). Marco Polo (1293 AD) wrote about the ruby that once graced the Ruwanweliseya Dagoba at Anuradhapura..."a flawless ruby a span long and quite as thick as a man's fist". Sri Lanka has produced three of the world's largest blue sapphires, including the 'Blue Bell' which adorns the British crown and the 'Star of India', displayed at the New York Museum of Natural History.
The mining operation for gems has been virtually the same since the days of the Alexander the Great or perhaps the Pharaohs times except for the modern addition of the water pumps for dewatering of the pits. The supports for the excavations are still mostly the logs. Labour is provided as a share to the earnings as well as the equipment, materials as well as the daily expenses such as food too are contributed as a share.