Pick up a blue moonstone anywhere in the world, and the chances are that this beautiful gemstone would have come from a small village in southwest Sri Lanka – Meetiyagoda – where it is mined in a few primitive waterlogged pits, by hand, as it has been since 1906. Meetiyagoda is just a couple of kilometres from the coast, midway between Ambalangoda and Hikkaduwa, sitting over the earth’s largest pegmatite vein of moonstone. The ten mines in Meetiyagoda are by far the world’s primary source of blue moonstones.
Moonstone deposits occur in the crystalline granite known as pegmatite, in magnetic rock deep below the surface, unlike the sapphires and the rubies, which are sedimentary surface deposits. To get to the moonstone, the miners of Meetiyagoda dig deep rectangular shafts down through the clay like kaolin topsoil to the weathering surface of the pegmatite.