The gemstones unearthed from our island have held the world’s intrigue since ancient times. Her rich alluvial deposits are abundant in precious and semi-precious stones of immense value. Their trade, inevitably, has always been a part of the nation’s economy and our collective identity. The ‘Gem Stories’ experience revolves around an individual who has played a vital role in the continuation of this trade — Ifthikar Mahuroof. He is a fourth generation member of a distinguished gem family hailing from the coastal city of Galle. His life is a treasure trove of emotionally-moving anecdotes, descriptive narratives and personal accounts. Stories on world personalities that he has met, epic travels to far off lands, and the romantic history of Ceylon’s gem trade, unravel slowly during the course of this one-of-a-kind experience.

A recurring theme while in conversation with him is that of generosity. Of little significance, he feels, are one’s achievements and the wealth amassed in the process, if a deep sense of gratitude and compassion are not cultivated within. These values have been passed onto his children as well. His overall humility and his philanthropic leanings can be discerned as he weaves in and out, seamlessly, through the many topics of interest he is an authority on. His wife, Shahira, looks at him with an adoring glint in her eyes, as she prepares the scrumptious meal that this experience leads up to. She lovingly jibes every now and then, adding to the conversation while multitasking in the kitchen. World gem expositions and exhibitions attended with her husband are her favourite! He talks about his participation in these with much pride; however, it is the kind based on dignity and achievement on behalf of the country, not conceit. Upstairs you will witness his personal collection of gems. It is stunning and varied, to say the least, and each gem has a fascinating story adding to its lustre. Chock-full of the personal accounts of a man who has truly seen the world and lived, this encounter comes highly recommended by the Ceylon Soul team.