Moonstone mine near Ambalangoda

Moonstone mine near Ambalangoda

Moonstone, considered to be the most valuable variety of feldspar, is the opalescent variety of orthoclase (an opaque to transparent potassium feldspar). Its schiller or adularescence is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of feldspar, with different refractive indexes.
Like labradorite, it has an opalescent quality, caused by the reflection of light from the internal structure. Moonstone is usually whitish-blue, but can be colorless, yellow, orange, gray, or even reddish.
Like many gems found in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and Myanmar (formerly Burma), moonstone most often occurs as pebbles and irregular masses in gem-gravels and clay-deposits.
Mining moonstone is nearly always a manual process but there are several different ways in which stones can be collected:
In one method, miners dig deep narrow holes in the earth, lowering themselves by rope to the bottom. Filling their wicker baskets with loose dirt and gravel, they hoist the baskets back up to the surface where the gravels can be washed by hand to expose gem quality moonstones that can then be picked out of the gravel.
Another method, often referred to as "alluvial," is used in streams and rivers. In this process, natives use loosely-woven pans made from bamboo to 'wash' the river gravels, sands, and soils, allowing them to 'sift' the the water.
Mitiyagoda's moonstone
Occurring in colors ranging from misty whites to soft grays to pale oranges, Sri Lanka has produced the most desirable and enchanting specimens of moonstone for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Described as "situated somewhat in the hinterland," Sri Lanka's tiny hamlet of Domanwila, in the village of Mitiyagoda (also known as Meetiyagoda), dominates the world's moonstone market.
The village is especially known for its "blue flash" moonstone, translucent white with brilliant flashes of a metallic shimmer-y bright blue. Providing steady employment (a rarity in Sri Lanka), the moonstone industry supports the village.
The orthoclase layer under the village is only about 20-30 feet down making manual, low cost access possible. This is particularly beneficial in a culture dependent on the gem trade where men often have to leave home for many months at a time to mine in remote areas of the country, living under the most primitive conditions.
However, the advantage also comes at a cost: abandoned mines have turned into stagnant polluted water holes that breed ever more mosquitoes, making malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases a huge problem.

Recommended review time for sightseeing: 1 h

Tourist reviews about Moonstone mine near Ambalangoda

Okay if you don't have much else to do
Lea P [TA], , Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland

They quickly showed us the way the moonstones are extract and processed. The small tour leads through a small cinnamon plantation. But unfortunately they don't show how the trees become the end product. The main coal of this place is to sell cinnamon, moonstone and other gem jewelry.

Interesting but too pushy
RichardD [TA], , Hampshire, UK

The whole purpose of this is to get you to buy their stuff. The tour is very short and the whole focus is to get you in the shop and not let you out until you have bought something. Then finally I was quizzed by the guide as to how good he had been etc. Why he just didn't say "where is my tip" I do not know

Interesting mine, high prices, bargain if you buy.
twinzmom... [TA], , Luling, Louisiana

The mine was interesting. If you want to buy moonstones afterward, be prepared to bargain. The prices are high and there is A LOT of room there. I looked at a pendant and they came down to half the original price before I left.

Avoid - short tour and big sell
Philip O [TA], , Gateshead, United Kingdom

As other reviews have stated you get a short tour which is mildly interesting but as expected the hard sell follows in shop. Not sure if mine was real or just hole in ground and whole 'tour' rushed so you can spend time in shop. Guess is tuk tuk drivers do get payment for any sales made but struggle to understand why anyone would buy unless they have expert knowledge? How anyone can be sure jewels are real or value for money is beyond me!

Great that Sri Lanka has decided to protect the old ways of mining moonstones and provide for the villages near the mine
salbay10 [TA], , Brisbane, Australia

Have a much greater appreciation of the hard work and incredible skill that goes into creating jeweler with precious and semi precious stones. I was very happy with the pieces I choose, well made and in designs that were unique and not found in every corner jewellery store. Bargain on the price about 30%. In the end I got unique jewellery that was well made sterling silver with blue moonstones and blue sapphires that I could not have purchased in Australia for at least twice the price.

Carly B [TA], ,

We were taken here on way back from whale watching tour by our guide.

After a tour of the mine we were taken to the shop. Everything I looked at they tried to push us to buy which was annoying. I ended up buying a pendant which was nice I don't mind about the stones it's a lovely necklace. Haggled to get a better price but they don't like to make a deal! 2 ladies one was nicer the other quite agreesive with her attitude. They actually overcharged us for our items which we didn't realise until we got back.

Mixed feelings
251larsn [TA], ,

Entrance fee is free, but in general stones there are very expensive , over 5 times more for sapphires than we found in Galle. The mine itself is quite interesting, however you're feeling somehow obliged to buy gems at the store. We went for the tiny ones.

Nice drive
NswAustra... [TA], , NSW AUSTRALIA

A short drive off the main coast road, interesting to see the mine, however only takes a few minutes. Then into the showroom, nothing grabbed us, one ring did take my eye however when I looked at it closely the setting was crooked. The salesman very very pushy to make a sale, prepared to negotiate but nothing there we wished to buy.

Something to see in half an hour.
Himalayan... [TA], , Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

This is situated half a mile or so off the main coast road and clearly sign posted,you can park up and visit in half an hour or so. A very well spoken gentleman will walk you through a small garden,where cinnamon grows that they process into Ayurvedic oil, this leads onto the moonstone mineshaft that you can look down . Many stones are shown and explained before being taken to where three craftsmen are working making jewelry,and two ladies are polishing and finishing the items ready for sale in the shop.The shop is a/c and modern with a sales lady.

Learn about moon stone mining
Amit B [TA], ,

We visited the mine while passing through to hikkaduwa. Small operation run mainly to gain tourist confidence and finally leads to a gem store selling overpriced jewellery.
We didn't buy jewellery but bought the cinnamon.
It's interesting to visit and note that people climb 12 metre down a shaft to bring out soil which when washed yields a rare good quality moonstone.
All drivers usually recommend the place. Go along take the tour , but some cinnamon and move on ..

Nice but not worth
Sailesh J [TA], ,

Nice to see the nice jewelry being made. Saleslady is a little pushy when selling so make sure you dont buy under pressure They negotiate a lot & sometimes charge 3 to 4 times more to tourists

Nice but haggle
Lydia T [TA], , Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Nice to see it be made also nice jewellery. Lady is a little pushy when selling so make sure you haggle for your goods!! She changed me 3xmore than my friend for the same item.

Worth the visit
DanaSiMar... [TA], ,

If you are interested in gems, this is one lace you should visit in Sri Lanka. Informative and interesting a tour. You should definitely try this

Nice little walk around the mine
Reimar197... [TA], , Aalborg, Denmark

OK little walk if you are on the road anyway, nothing to make an extra trip for I think. An elderly gentleman walks with you for 10 min in a pleasant jungle, shows you the hole in the ground where they dig moonstones, how they are washed out of the sand, and 3 guys working on the stones in a little "factory". Then quickly to the gem shop, where you can buy overpriced gem if you brought a few hundred or thousand USD. Oh yes, I forgot he tries to sell you some cinnamon too, while you're around anyway. We spent 500 on cinnamon and 500 for a tip, that's it.

Moonstone Mining
johnhp702 [TA], , Derby, United Kingdom

Enjoyed the first hand experience of seeing how these stones are mined, very basic and primitive but it works.

nice experience
janithagu... [TA], , United Arab Emirates

you must go and see the moonstone really i love moonstone and also i bought many moonstone and i will make nice ring ...!

What you see is what you get
mgishen [TA], ,

I approached this place with some caution after reading the TA reviews, but was very happy in the end. The quality of the goods is good - no sign of dodgy gems, and the quality was good (also confirmed by a jewellery expert in our group). The prices are quite high, but if you are happy with what you see, then just buy it. Prices are negotiable, and make sure that you are talking the same currency; misunderstandings could easily occur as they are trying to make it easier for tourists to understand by talking in foreign currency estimates, whilst the real price can be in Sri Lankan rupees. Sure it is a bit 'touristy', but that's why you are reading this! Take it as it is.

Be careful
hpindia [TA], , Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

I went to this place during my trip and at first I thought it was a good place because I was really impressed by the tour.Then I went to buy some studs for myself.It's not a good place to buy jewels because they sell it at extremely high prices available at a low cost .I was just about to buy when i got a call from a friend in srilanka.I sent her a picture of the stud and I asked her about it's price.What she told me was surprising.I was very disappointed.It's a good place to see but not to buy.

Please Avoid
Venkatesh... [TA], ,

We went to this place on the way to Galle and they gave very good tour of the facility. In the end there was a pressure to buy these gems at very high prices which is at least three times higher when compared with a reputed shop in Colombo. Fortunately we bought only ear rings which was charged three times the actual price This was discovered by us the next day when we discussed this with a close friend in Colombo. Probably they believe that tourists come to this place only once and that may be the reason for them to charge like this. They were quoting very high prices for each and everything ( probably more than 3 to 4 times the original price) and expect us to buy them. We ended up paying three times the actual price. Not a good experience for us and very disappointed.

alexandra... [TA], , Belgium

best place in mitiyagoda.there has very nice ornaments.. i get one ring,1 pendant. it's wonderful. i really love it

A good place to see how moonstone is mined
mgprabhu [TA], , Mangalore, India

Located very near to the Galle road, this place offers a view on how the Moonstone is mined. You can see how the final product which we wear passes thru the various stage from mining to polishing.

Don't buy the products though, as they are highly priced. Instead buy the cinnamon, it is cheap and of good quality

Not to be missed .!
Thomas H [TA], ,

We usually travel to Down south once in 02 or 03 months since we settled in Colombo in last December. This time the staff at the hotel we stayed recommended us this place. Just a couple of miles away from the main Galle road.

We found the place giving a good insight into the total process from the mining to the completely finished items. We learned some valuable information about these precious stones.

They directed us to a Cinnamon workshop also near by.

We recommend this as a good attraction.

well organized mine museum
Janos H [TA], , Budapest, Hungary

It is a well organized interaktiv museum and trading center.
The guide show for us the cinamon plantation, the moon mine hole and the shop of the jewellery games.

Don't bother
Absydabsy [TA], , Sydney, Australia

You're better off going straight to a jewelry shop. There's a short tour to show you what the entrance to a mine looks like (you don't get to go in though) and a quick demonstration of how they wash the gems from the dirt. You do get to see a workshop of guys making jewelry, but that's rushed as well. You're hurried off to a jewelry shop. The whole exercise is really just an excuse to get you into the shop. The tour guide/salesman doesn't even tell you how moonstones are formed so you don't really learn anything. Some tourist traps are fun, this was just lame.

From the ground up
Corrado17... [TA], , Amersham

We enjoyed seeing how the gems are mined, brought to the surface, washed and selected - before going into the shop to buy.

Nice to see how it's done....
Acacia200... [TA], , Portsmouth, United Kingdom

This is the only place in Asia that moonstones are found. They are beautiful. But gentlemen, hold on to your wallet, the lady's can't resist!

be warned
missemar [TA], , Reading, United Kingdom

in the village of Mitiyagoda there are 3 or 4 'mines' - we visited one which also produces cinnamon oil. Shown around by nice bloke but little more than a hole in the ground - was it genuine? Not sure.
wanted to buy some jewellery and asked if I could use card - 'yes' was reply. However, after agreeing a price I was then asked for SR rupees or dollars. when I explained that I didn't have enough there was a nasty turn round with offers to drive me to the bank to get money etc. Not a nice experience.
Looked up website on returning home - no such place found. Be warned.

SRIRAM G [TA], , Bangalore, India

Nothing much to see. Could have taken us to the jewellery store directly. Can be made a little better for promotional putpose

JenMats [TA], , Muscat, Oman

Its interesting to watch the process of the Moonstone mining, the stones sold were expensive though. Its all manual operation and traditionally done.

Interesting but expensive
Pad601 [TA], ,

Very expensive , over 5 times more for sapphires than we found in Galle. although the mine is quite interesting I thought they were only interested in getting you into their shop

Waste of Time
Kingsleyh... [TA], , Melbourne

During our visit to Galle our driver took us to a Gem Mine. This is a Moonstone Gem mine located in a village called Meetiyagoda which is just off the town of Hikkaduwa. It is not too far by car, from Galle.
I must confess that I have not been to a Gem Mine before. These gems are like pieces of glass.
When we got to the premises we were escorted by a guide from the mine. It was only a very short walk from the car park to the actual mine. When we walked to the mine, I got a sharp smell of Cinnamon, as we were passing quite a few cinnamon trees.
The mine itself was just a great, big, deep hole. It is fortified with timber to prevent the walls collapsing. A man is lowered down to the bottom of the hole. He digs and loads the gravel and sand into a bucket, which is hauled up to the top.
These are then sifted and washed to reveal the gem stones. The whole process is manual and seemed quite crude and old fashioned, to me.
We were then taken to another building where the grinding and polishing of the stones are done. Again it was very much a manual operation. Next we were shown another area where these stones were set in jewellery, such a rings and pendants.
Our guide then took us to the Sales and Showroom area. There was a sales pitch, but I must admit it was not a high pressured one, most probably as both my wife and I had indicated right at the start that we were not in the market for gems.
We left without buying anything. I thought the whole visit was a waste of time.

A dull experience - you could spend your time better elsewhere
TiggerInI... [TA], , Forest Row, UK

'Visit to the Moonstone mines' - it sounded magical!

It turned out to be a very dull experience followed by a high pressure sales spiel.

The 'mine' was a hole in the ground and a puddle at the bottom with an old guy squatting in the water. Were those shiny wet moonstones between his toes? Really? I wonder who put them there?

I suppose they do really dig up moonstones here, but it is absurd to describe it as a 'mine'. And it is not so much about visiting a moonstone mine as about being persuaded to buy over-priced jewellery.

You can buy the same moonstone jewellery (with certificates of authenticity etc etc) at many other tourist traps on the island, but at a fraction of the price.

I tried to persuade myself that I found something about this visit interesting, because I hate to think that I wasted my time. Well, there was a nice walk through a patch of forest to get there.....

Very interesting
hulagirlS... [TA], , Surrey

A guide will show you how they mine, polish and set the moonstones. You walk through cinnamon trees to get to the mine. There is a shop where you can buy jewellery and they try very hard to get you to buy something.

Just A Quick Visit ...
DEUCE66 [TA], , London, United Kingdom

to the touristy Moonstone Mine, I can't really say anything that hasn't already been said. Although we had 2 men pop up from the mine, one I felt was for show & the other possibly for real. Actually I was well impressed when the real man jumped in that dirty great pool! I almost fell for it & tipped him, but there were 3 of them & I didn't feel that the other 2 warranted a tip. I lapped the shop in record time & showed no interest in his 'Would Madame like this .....' lark. They knew I had no intention of buying & I walked away without any fuss. Although interesting.

Moonstone Mines - educational tour for children and adults
Nuzraan [TA], , Colombo

Moonstones are found in a specific area near Ambalangoda( south of Sri Lanka). These are semi precious stones available in different shades. The process of extracting the stones are interesting for kids as well as adults. Staff at mines will explain the process and take a tour to the site. You will be amazed to see the final outcome after cut and polish. The traditional polishing and cutting methods are used here. There are few mines and outlets around this area.

Bargaining is possible if you are interested to by the stone. Some of these outlets do have a range of precious stones too which can be expensive. Mines are generally located in a Cinnamon estate and you will also have chance to see the cinnamon production process.

Ask your travel agents to make sure you are taken to the right outlet to ensure you get the best value for money. Do not rely on touts or chauffeurs all the time.

They force you to buy it,,,,
coolskun [TA], , Pune

The gemstone mine me n my hubby went we had a bad experience, although one lady explained the process how they get a stone from the mine ,,,to how it is done in a nice jewellery. But the moment we enter thr jewellery showroom, a big fat lady, the owner, started to force me n chase me to buy one ( even though if you dont want you have to). And when i told her that in India we buy stones according to our zodiac signs,,,it also has to suit us,,,,and am not sure if this stone suits me,,,she very rudely took the piece from my hand. Be careful, unless you are sure of what you are buying.

Be careful buying gems
AllisonH4... [TA], , Middlesbrough, United Kingdom

We visited the moonstone mine as part of our August holiday last year. As I had previously lost my engagement ring I was delighted to be told that I could choose any gem and have it set into a ring designed to my specification. I chose a natural blue sapphire and designed the ring. The salesman said that he would deliver it to our hotel the next week. We had no problems and received and paid for the ring which I was delighted with. On return to the UK i had the gems valued and certified that they were genuine. However, a year on the ring has literally fallen apart. My insurance doesn't cover it as two independent jewellers have said that the white gold is inferior and the setting previously been altered. I feel that we have been ripped off and my only choice is to pay a lot of money to have the stones reset.
Whilst this is an interesting attraction to see the gems being mined, be very careful if you choose to purchase an expensive piece of jewellery or you might end up paying the price when you get home.

Moonstone Mines and Gullible Tourists
mamayer10... [TA], , Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Took a trip south down Galle Road from Colombo on our way to Fort Galle. Stopped at the Moonstone Mine. We enjoyed seeing the gem miner climb up from the bowels of the deep gem mine with a weaved basket filled with mud and rocks. We watched him rinse the rocks and search for any valuable stones. Next, we learned how cinnamon is grown and harvested for spice and oils. Then we were shown how the raw gems were selected, cut and polished and finally set. On the last part of our tour, we were brought to the little jewelry store where there were some pretty hard core sales tactics in play. I ended up buying many pieces set in sterling and I'm happy with my purchases but have no idea of whether or not I got a good deal, a decent deal or was ripped off. Travelers beware of their hard core sales pitch. AND, don't agree to have anything set and later delivered to your hotel. Buy what you want there. Glad I went, can't really highly recommend it, though.

Worth a look
Ian F [TA], , Perth, Western Australia, Australia

If you have time visit one of the many Moonstone Mines near Galle.

You will be shown the mine shaft, how the stones are selected, cut and polished.

And of course you will have a chance to buy some of the stones set in attractive jewellery.

The prices were very reasonable.

just okay!!
mantravel [TA], , Manchester, United Kingdom

This turned out to be exactly what i expected it to be... a sales pitch.A guide took us to the mine telling us all about the fruits in the trees etc. The actual mine is a hole in the ground with ropes and buckets all around. Then we were shown the cinammon ovens for making oils. Back to where we started and into the jewellry shop. Luckily i was ready for this and manage to decline and leave without any fuss.

Every mine says it is the ONLY moonstone mine
Sija56 [TA], , Adelaide, Australia

The first mine is quite interesting - they explain about moonstones and show you the mine and then the cinnamon bark stripping and drying. Then the selling starts - cinnamon, ( which is fantastic, and we purchased some) cinnamon oil then the obligatory gem shop. After this you discover all the mines do the same thing, give the same spiel, and sell the same stuff....the first mine is the cheapest. Suggest go to one only. All the mines say that they are the only genuine moonstone mine, even though there are a whole string of them on the same road. Ratnapura is more interesting, as there are sapphire mines there, which cost around the same as moonstones.

Moonstone Mines in Srilanka - Worth one visit
traveller... [TA], , Chandigarh, India

80 kms from Colombo and a slight diversion from the Colombo - Hikaduwa - Galle road lies the moonstone mines of Srilanka.
Moonstones are beautiful stones which are white and give a blue shimmer when watched from an angle.
These mines are not huge, a single establishment would not be more than 100sq.ft area dug at one time, and there are plenty scattered around.
Watch the process of digging, sieving, washing ,polishing and end up in the souvenir shop to make your purchase.
Worth one visit for sure.

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