Starlanka, the Los Angeles-based, luxury-focused sapphire resource is the ultimate place in America to source some of the most unique and rare sapphires in the market today. A family-run operation, the staff at Starlanka are experts in curating a collection of stones that would take any collector’s breath away. Starting by having access to the source, mines in the Southeast Asian nation of Sri Lanka, Starlanka does the work and sifts through the bulk to find only the best that money can buy.
We worked with Starlanka recently on creating a piece of jewelry that could be worn by a man or woman, and spoke to the uniqueness of the sapphires in which they have access. We worked with their team to select the perfect stone, a rare Padparadscha sapphire – salmon pink with a touch of purple and orange. These sapphires are some of the most prized in the industry for their rarity, and the reason is obvious. The extreme beauty and variations of color seen within the stones is incomparable. They are often called the “sunset” sapphire.
Starlanka not only sells sapphires in their loose form, but they also work with customers in creating unique pieces of jewelry – from rings to bands, bracelets and earrings. We chose a GIA certified 1.7 carat Padparadscha sapphire to use when designing a necklace on a rose gold, 20-inch rolo chain we chose from Stuller. The sapphire had been certified, as most are that come from Starlanka, and had never been heated or tampered with – it is 100% natural.
We spoke with Starlanka through this process to get a greater understanding of their business, their founder, Kalam, and why they are the best in the industry. We were left impressed and realized there is no better source in the United States of unique, certified sapphires.
IC: Why was Starlanka founded as a business and brand?
SL: It all began when my dad, Kalam, was young and began working in the sapphire trade with his uncle. He was mesmerized by these natural beauties from the very beginning. He started out as a wholesale only sapphire dealer. He walked from door to door, building his client base, and is now known as one of the most trustworthy and reputable sapphire dealers in the US. He’s fostered some amazing relationships along the way.
Ever since I could remember, my dad would fly between Colombo, Sri Lanka and Los Angeles, CA. He would bring back so many beautiful treasures. My siblings and I would put stones aside for our own personal collections. Even though they were small lesser quality pieces, we adored them.
Eventually, we grew up, moved away for school and found passion in other fields. Yet, we ended up coming back to the family business. Since my brother and I started “officially” working with my dad, we expanded our business to the retail world where we could share our love for these jewels with everyone (not just wholesale dealers).
We think that one of a kind jewelry begins with the perfect sapphire and we’ve been helping clients create their dream pieces with sapphires and other colored gemstones.
IC: What is unique about what the company offers in the gem stone market?
SL: We only deal in the highest quality sapphires. Ones that are completely untreated or heat-treated only. We source our sapphires straight from the mines, which enables us to ensure that the sapphires, which come into our possession, are ethically mined. We have a special connection with each hand picked sapphire, as it becomes a part of our collection. And most of all we value our relationship with our suppliers and our clients above all else. It’s why people have chosen us over others when they begin searching for the sapphire of their dreams.
IC: How does Starlanka source their sapphires, and where do they come from?
SL: Kalam travels to Sri Lanka to select sapphires directly from the source. We have a satellite office in Beruwela and Colombo, so that vendors, miners, gem dealers can sit with us as we select the perfect sapphires for our collection. Many of our sapphires are from Sri Lanka, however, we do have many sapphires from Madagascar, as well. Kalam has also made a few trips to Madagascar to source colored gemstones in the past.
IC: Which sapphire is your favorite and most favorite to sell?
SL: My personal favorite is padparadscha and it has been since I was a child. I just love the pretty orange-pink sunset hue. It can be very rare to find a high quality, unincluded, untreated padparadscha sapphire.
IC: Who is the Starlanka customer?
SL: We work with people from all walks of life, from artists and creatives to entrepreneurs to doctors and engineers. Our clients are quite particular and creative when it comes to choosing their sapphire and creating their piece of jewelry.
IC: What services does the company offer to clients?
SL: We help our clients source their perfect sapphire – either from our collection or we will hunt for the perfect gem during our sourcing trips. We also love to work with clients in creating any piece they dream up with the sapphire or sapphires of their choice. We also work with other colored gemstones, so we source and create designs with our clients.
IC: Has there ever been a favorite piece of jewelry you’ve created for a customer?
SL: Absolutely! Each piece of jewelry we have created for a client has commemorated a special time in their lives – an engagement, a wedding, a new baby. It’s hard to choose just one, but if I absolutely had to it would be a custom necklace and earring set we created for a client’s wedding day. For more info: https://bluesapphirestones.com/blogs/news/something-blue-sapphire-pendant-and-earrings
IC: When looking to purchase a sapphire, what are the most important things to consider?
SL: The beauty and value of a sapphire is dependent on its color, so the most important question to ask is about the color — how even it is, the saturation, and the hue.
People should also ask about size in measurements rather than weight, even though sapphires and most gemstones, including diamonds are priced per carat. You would want to get a stone that looks big but doesn’t weigh a lot, to get the most bang for your buck. But keep in mind that the deeper the measurement, usually the more saturated the color, so you don’t want a completely flat stone because it won’t have the same sparkle and saturation.
Lastly, you should definitely ask about what sort of treatment the sapphire has undergone. Completely untreated sapphires would be more expensive because of their rarity. Heat-treated sapphires are pretty common and it’s a standard treatment in the industry. Heat treatment helps to dissipate inclusions and deepens the color. We wouldn’t recommend buying a sapphire with any other treatments.