National Geographic : 1979 Jan
purest honey had come to rest there. A star, or asterism, graced it. "It's not yellow," he declared. "Not golden. Not brown. It's honey-colored. And it's perfect. It has no price. I don't feel like selling it." Dealer in Jewels Seeks a Greater Gem In Sri Lanka the gem trade follows a straightforward procedure. The miner sells to a dealer in rough stones, who sells to the cutter-polisher, who sells to the wholesaler retailer. The latter, like Mr. Marapana, also designs settings and may find markets for his jewels in many parts of the world. In the instance of the honey-colored sap phire, however, my host had gone a step be yond. He had become the collector, a role at which he excelled. He had begun collecting gems two decades earlier. Now 43, he val ued the result in the millions. "I don't do mining," Mr. Marapana told me, "because it's too much of a gamble. I don't even like to sell. My wife and son do the selling. As a designer, I am an artist." Then the artist turned philosopher. "What is money? Many people have money, but they are unhappy. They always want more. The most precious jewel you can have is wisdom." I left on that note and headed for the mud dy gem pits that puncture the paddies be yond Ratnapura. The first miner I met may have been a bit short on wisdom, being only 21. He had no money at all.