The gemstone extracted from mines receives its beauty and the value only when they are properly cut and polished. Therefore, the lapidary industry is as old as the gemstone mining in Sri Lanka. Until early 1970s, cutting and polishing of gems were performed using a traditional machine called Hanaporuwa. Gem cutting machinery too have improved vastly from ancient Hanaporuwa to modern faceting machines with many accessory machinery for calibrating, sawing and performance efficiency are now being employed. Satisfying the modern day requirements of the jewellery industry would never have been feasible with Hanaporuwa type of machines. Since only cut and polished stones were allowed to be exported, many new lapidaries were started to cope with the topaz rush.
The employment opportunities as a professional gemstone cutter has increased global preference for faceted gemstones. This increased demand for professional cutters and thus increased the demand for training facilities. The reputation of the Sri Lanka lapidary and the low cost of labour during the last three decades have increased the demand for service cutting of calibrated stones. The value addition per carat in the calibrated stone industry is estimated to vary between 25-30% for imported stones and 40-100% for local stones. It is estimated that there are around 20,000 cutters in Sri Lanka of which about 5000 are employed in the diamond cutting factories. They process both precious and semi- precious gemstones in free sizes and calibrated sizes.