OAP’S Gem Treasure Trove Sold For Tsunami Relief
Thursday, January 13th, 2005
on behalf of Alistir Wood Tait Antique and Fine Jewellery
A GENEROUS pensioner has donated a stunning collection of Sri Lankan gemstones to help raise money for the Tsunami relief fund.
The woman, who is in her 80s, has cherished the family heirlooms for more than 60 years. They were a gift to her from a relative who was based in the Indian Ocean island when it was still known as Ceylon.
Now she he asked Scotland’s leading gemmologist and renowned jeweller Alistir Tait to assess and value the 25 precious and semi-precious stones, which include rubies, sapphires, citrines and moonstones.
He will then sell them through his shop in Rose Street, Edinburgh, with all money raised going directly to the Hikkaduwa Area Relief Fund, which has been set up to help one of the worst-hit communities.
The pensioner, a devout member of the Church of Scotland, lives in Culross parish in Fife and her local kirk was one of those highlighting the fund-raising efforts of Sri Lankan refugees now living in Glasgow.
Church elders approached a major jewellery chain with the stones, but were advised to consult Alistir, an expert in the study and valuing of gems who travels the world searching out and studying precious stones.
Alistir, who was the youngest ever Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britian at the age of 17, said: “It is a lovely gesture by this elderly woman and this is quite a treasure trove.
“Since she has had the stones for 60 years and thy are a family heirloom it must be quite a wrench for her to part with them. That makes the gesture even more generous and shows how deeply this tragedy has touched so many ordinary people like this old lady.”
He added: “These stones would have been produced when Sri Lanka was still known as Ceylon and after the years of joy they have given this woman, she thought this was the right time to put something back
“They are a range of sizes and shapes and a wonderful array of colours including blues, purples, orange, reds, violet and turquoise. Now I hope people will match this woman’s generosity by paying a premium to the relief fund to own a gemstone from Sri Lanka.”
Alison Hay, an Elder at Dalgety Parish Church in Fife, has been helping raise the profile of the Sri Lankan fundraisers in Glasgow, whose efforts are bolstering the Hikkaduwa Area Relief Fund.
She said: “The woman who is donating the gemstones is a wonderful character and this is a typically generous act. As soon as she heard about these Sri Lankan refugees in Glasgow she was on the phone to me at eight o’clock in the morning to offer these gemstones.
“She is quite determined that the money raised by selling the gems should go back to help in the country where they originally came from.”
Alistir, who is giving his time and expertise free, will now sort, assess and value the stones and put each in an individual display box and sell them through his shop, Alistir Wood Tait Antique and Fine Jewellery in Edinburgh.
They will be sold for between £10 and £200 and Alistir added: “Some of the stones are quite valuable while others are not. But they are all very pretty and this is a way for people to give a donation of at least £10 to an important cause, get something from Sri Lanka and make an old lady very happy.”
* Hikkaduwa was an idyllic resort in Sri Lanka which was totally devastated by the Tsunami, which left the town and neighbouring villages flattened and up to 10,000 dead or missing.
The relief fund was set up by Glasgow The Caring City and businessman Neil Galbraith. It is also backed by Glasgow Lord Provost, Liz Cameron. They believe Glasgow and its people can do most good by concentrating aid efforts on a single affected area.