Kurundu Garnet is the name we give Deep Fiery Orange Hessonite Garnet from Sri Lanka. Hessonite has long been nicknamed the Cinnamon Stone due to the similarities in colour to the long-traded spice. Ceylon (as it was known) has exported Cinnamon for thousands of years. As a spice it is reported as early as 2000BC is was being exported to Egypt. No other gem encompasses the explosion of taste and burst of colour you get with Cinnamon, which is why we’ve named this unmistakable colour of gemstone Kurundu Garnet.
Kurundu is the Sinhalese word for Cinnamon, and for the small evergreen tree from which it is harvested. Sri Lankan Cinnamon is considered the finest as it comes from the original source and the original tree species – known as Cinnamomum Verum. Other sources of Cinnamon use similar but not identical trees from the same family which provide a much harsher, darker tasting form of the spice. Sri Lankan Cinnamon is much sweeter and more suitable for use in sweet dishes.
The look of the spice is different between sources too. Whilst many ‘secondary sources’ will provide a dark, almost burnt red version of Cinnamon, the colour of Sri Lankan Cinnamon (also known as Ceylon Cinnamon or True Cinnamon) is a brighter orange body colour with light yellow to light brown tones. These colours effortlessly lend themselves to Kurundu Garnet and it’s easy to see why for many years the gem has also been called Cinnamon Stone.
Sri Lanka produces 80% to 90% of the world’s supply of True Cinnamon from the Cinnamomum Verum tree. Put simply, this is the original source, the original spice from the original tree – a similar legacy to that of
Ceylon Sapphire in terms of its source. This importance of source can be carried over to Kurundu Garnet and the quality of the pieces we source from Ratnapura.
There are Hessonite gem deposits dotted around Sri Lanka, including those at Kataragama and Balangoda. The Hessonite Garnet deposits in Sri Lanka are the most well-known deposits of the gem in the world. To own one is to have a gemstone from a remarkable source, renowned for quality and colour. Our Kurundu Garnet is made up of only the finest colours that come out of the mine, and to maintain this quality we go to the gem-rich earth found in Ratnapura. Ratnapura is perhaps most famous in gemology circles as a source of very fine quality Sapphires. Of course, coming from Sri Lanka, this makes them Ceylon Sapphires, long regarded as some of the finest Sapphires in the world. It is here that we come to source our Kurundu Garnet.
The mines here tend to be small to medium scale, and the miners still use a lot of hand tools and traditional techniques. Very few pieces come out of the ground and whilst production could possibly be increased, it’s in the best interests of the mines to keep their operations fairly small scale so they can continue to function. Should they invest in heavy machinery and many staff, and then find very little in the ground, they would very quickly become unsustainable. Many miners prefer this approach to mining as it helps to keep their gem discovery dreams alive across a number of years rather than just a few months. The knock on effect, of course, is extremely limited supplies coming into our crafting workshops in Jaipur.
Cinnamon was one of the first spices used in the ancient world, along with frankincense and myrrh. Early trade routes would have seen Cinnamon being sailed around the world. The Ancient Romans used it, and it was sometimes used as an early way or preserving meat, as well as being used as a flavouring. One has to wonder, as these ancient traders pulled into the earliest ports with their exciting cargo from far-away lands, whether they also bought with them these glowing Garnets, introducing people for the very first time to a treasure for the ages.
Whilst Cinnamon harvesters are above the ground, taking the inner bark from the topmost branches of the trees (which dries and curls up into Cinnamon sticks), far below them their gemstone counterparts dig and tunnel the soil, hoping for a glimmer of orange deep beneath the surface that signifies the discovery of a rough Kurundu Garnet.
Whilst the soils of Sri Lanka surrender to us a wealth of beautiful gemstones, is it really a coincidence that in the hot, moist climate of Sri Lanka the soils that allow Cinnamon trees to grow their spice also, far deeper, harbor this delightful treasure?
As Hessonite Garnet the gem is also mined in Brazil, India, Canada, Madagascar, Tanzania and the United States. However such is the quality our Kurundu Garnet that we’ll only using the name for fine quality pieces sourced from Ratnapura, Sri Lanka, also the home of Cinnamon and Sapphire.
Kurundu may sound similar to the family name of Sapphire and Ruby, Corundum. Indeed, this word is thought to have derived, at least in part, from the Sinhalese word for Ruby Kuruvindum.