Sri Lanka has captured the hearts of many travelers and adventurers from around the world for centuries, through its beauty, resources and people. Perhaps the island’s most valuable asset; its gemstones, is renowned worldwide and has adorned the crowns and jewellery of royalty. Yet another heart that was captivated by these gems is Lewis Allen’s, who will be returning to the country as the Guest of Honour for FACETS 2019, the International Gem and Jewellery Exhibition on 29 August.
Lewis was in Sri Lanka in 1978 teaching scuba diving at the Nilaveli Beach Hotel in Trincomalee. An ardent traveler, he began trading in gemstones to fund his travels. Journeying to Ratnapura in 1979, he bought a few semi-precious stones; moonstones and garnets. This marked the start of his gem trading business, which has developed into trading rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
Identifying the large potential the local gem and jewellery industry carries, Lewis is today one of the biggest buyers of Sri Lankan sapphires. “Sri Lanka is blessed with many gems and has a very important position in the world for gemstones. It is the main buying center for sapphires,” he comments.
Even though Sri Lanka was thus a special place for Lewis and his family, destiny dealt a cruel blow when he lost his dear wife to the terrorist attacks on Easter morning. The couple, along with their two sons were in the country to inspect the hospital they were building in Ratnapura. Coming back to a country that they last left in anguish would definitely not be an easy task. However, his love for the island and confidence on the industry has made Lewis agree to return to Sri Lanka for FACETS 2019. “I do not want to let one bad experience ruin the good relationship I have had with Sri Lanka for 35 years. I have always loved this beautiful country and its people”.
Sri Lanka as a nation needs to build a positive image at present. Lewis is confident that through events such as FACETS, which attract international delegations to the country and also helps the tourism industry, the country will rebuild. He believes that the country, which came back from 30 years of civil war and gained the reputation as one of the best countries for international tourism, will definitely bounce back from the April tragedy “because of its lovely people”.
As an international gem trader Lewis is of the opinion that Sri Lanka will continue to provide beautiful and rare gems for many years to come, as it has much to offer to the international gem trade. He declares, “The future of Sri Lanka will remain as a leading source for the world’s finest sapphires”.
Most of these finest gems and beautifully crafted jewellery will be showcased at FACETS 2019 at BMICH from 29 August to 1 September 2019.