iSurprise Safa Ibrahim

Jeweller and former Fort resident

Galle Fort is a colony made up of family and friends. This is where the goldsmiths have their shops and you find generations of experience.
— Safa Ibrahim, jeweller

Bursting with history

My father opened the shop here in 1978 in what was his bedroom! When I first joined the family business, I would cycle to Elliott Street in Galle three times a day. This is where the goldsmiths have their shops. Many are from the Sinhalese nandana caste. Generations of experience means they can set million-dollar stones with confidence. Sadly, this skill is vanishing. The best goldsmiths can earn as much as doctors; they are as skilled as anyone on the island.

Wealth of experience

My passion lies in designing and making unusual pieces of jewellery, as well as travelling abroad for shows. When I was younger, I studied with a French designer who taught me a lot. We make everything in our Fort workshop. We employ a goldsmith and silversmith, as well as two gem cutters – one specialises in faceting and the other in cabochon stones. Several employees have been with us for at least 20 years.


I have a few favourite pieces including a gold and single cut diamond necklace from my mother’s side of the family – it’s about 150-years-old. My grandfather was an opal merchant and the scales he used for weighing the stones, which were shipped from Australia, is another treasured item. From the jewellery I have designed, I particularly like a hammered gold ring set with multi-coloured sapphires. In my opinion, the Ceylon sapphires are still the best in the world. They have few inclusions and a beautiful sky-blue colour.

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