The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) and the tourist Police have commenced investigations on fake blue sapphires being sold in Beruwala and Ratnapura.

It is reported that the fake stones are sold as natural stones possessing the colour and clarity of sapphires, following the application of heat treatment techniques to opaque and semi precious stones.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NGJA, Asanka Sanjeewa Welagedara said that the buyers, especially foreign buyers, should request for a detailed certificate when deciding on making a purchase of an expensive gem or gems, some worth over millions of rupees.

“There is a 10 fold price difference between a heat treated blue sapphire and a natural stone. This is cheating,” he remarked.

A detailed certificate can be obtained from the laboratory of the NGJA or from several private laboratories for a fee of Rs 1,500, he added, which is negligible in comparison with the price paid for the stones.

There is no point in buyers obtaining a memo certificate as unlike the detailed certificate it does not contain scientific data about the stones in question, he noted, adding also that the possession of a detailed certificate raised the value of the stones.

It is reported that imitations, artificial stones and coloured glass are also being sold in a similar fashion.

“Nanotechnology is used in heat treatment. Heat treatment is for the purpose of changing the colour of the stone. This is a process of value addition, which is permitted. The seller however must declare this fact when selling,” Welagedara said.