A Status Report On Gemstones
© 1986 Gemological Institute of America
First published in GEMS & GEMOLOGY, Winter, 1985
Republished with permission
Edited for Internet presentation
By Gary W. Bowersox
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr. Bowersox is president of Gem Industries, Inc.,
in Honolulu, Hawaii; he has been buying and cutting
Afghan gem materials for over 12 years.
Acknowledgments: The author particularly wishes
to thank the following people for providing
information used in this article: Aisha Rind,
Badshah, Maula Mohammad Bieg, Haji Gulam
Haider, Hajr Mohamuddin, Fazal Uddim, and V.
Dr. James Shigley and John Koivula, of
the GIA Research Department, contributed
information to the sections on geology and
Although Afghanistan has historically been
well known for its lapis lazuli deposits,
significant amounts of fine emerald,
tourmaline, kunzite, and some rubies are
now emerging from that embattled nation.
Emeralds come primarily from the Panjsher
Valley, northeast of Kabul. Large amounts
of green, blue, and pink tourmaline, as well
as considerable quantities of kunzite and
some aquamarine, have been taken from
the pegmatites of the Nuristan region, east
of Panjsher. Smaller quantities of fine ruby
have been found in the Sorobi region,
between Jalalabad and Kabul. The
occurrence, mining, and distribution of
these gem materials are summarized, as are
their gemological properties. Lesser
amounts of garnet, amethyst, spinel, and
morganite have also been located. The
prospects for future production of emeralds
and pegmatite gems, in particular, are
Although the political situation in Afghanistan continues
to be very unstable, Afghan miners remove
many thousands of carats of fine gems each year from that
country. In addition to the historically famous deposits of
lapis lazuli, significant quantities of emerald, tourmaline,
and kunzite, among other gem materials, have emerged
from the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan within the last
few years. Small amounts of fine ruby are also being mined.
Most of these gem materials are of very high quality.
While much has been written about the lapis lazuli
from Sar-e-Sang (e.g., Wyart et al., 1981), relatively little
has been published about these other gems. To help fill
some of the gaps in our knowledge of this area, this article
presents a current status report on several Afghan gem
materials - emerald, tourmaline, kunzite, and ruby - including
the locations of the mines, mining methods,
gemological properties, and some production figures.
THE HINDU KUSH
Figure 1. The north eastern provinces of Afghanistan - bordered by the USSR, China, and Pakistan (see inset) - encompass one of the most important gem - producing regions in the world today. Some of the principal localities for emerald, tourmaline, spodumene (kunzite), ruby, lapis lazuli, and aquamarine are labeled E, T, K, R, L, and A, respectively, on the map.
The mines that have recently produced gem material are
for the most part in the northeastern portion of the country,
north and east of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan
(figure 1). Emeralds have been found primarily in the
Panjsher Valley.* Pegmatite gems - tourmaline, kunzite,
and aquamarine - have been found in the Nuristan region,
crossing the provinces of Laghman and Konar. Rubies have
been found in the southern portion of the Sorobi district, in
The topography of the region is dominated by the towering Hindu Kush mountain range. These mountains
form the western end of the Himalayas, which
stretch eastward across northern Pakistan and India. The
Hindu Rush range is one of the most rugged areas of the
world, with mountains reaching up to 6,000 m (19,500 ft.)
separated by narrow, steep river valleys. The road network is
limited, and many areas in this part of Afghanistan are inaccessible
except by foot. This, combined with a climate that ranges from
extremely cold winters to hot, dry summers, contributes to the
inhospitability of the region.
*Note in figure 1 that Panjsher Valley has been placed in Kapisa
Province, on the basis of the Rand-McNally (1982) and other
recent maps used as references to develop this one. However,
many geologic sources refer to Panjsher Valley as being in
Parvan Province. Note also that the spellings for Afghan place
names used in this article are those adopted by Rand-McNally
(1982). We have chosen this source for the sake of consistency,
although these names, too, often vary greatly from one
reference to another.
Despite their remoteness, both the Hindu
Kush range and the adjacent Karakoram range in
neighboring Pakistan have been the sites of spectacular finds of
gemstones during the last 15 years.
In addition to earlier descriptions of Panjsher emeralds (Neilson and Cannon, 1977)
and of pegmatite gemstones from Nuristan (Bariand and Poullen, 1978), important discoveries of tourmaline, beryl, corundum, and other gemstones have been
made in Pakistan in the Gilgit area (Kazni et al.,
(1985), in the Swat and Hunza valleys northeast of
Peshawar (Gübelin, 1982), and in Kashmir (Atkinson and Kothavala, 1983). These areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan are located in one of the
most geologically dynamic regions of the world -
at the juncture along which the Indo-Pakistan and
Asian crustal plates collided to give rise to the
Himalayas. The geology of this region is quite
complex, and it has been investigated in detail
only recently (for further information, see Weippert et al., 1970; Lapparent, 1972; Fuchs et al.,
1974; and Wolfart and Wittekindt, 1980). These investigations indicate that the Hindu Kush area
represents the western end of a succession of important gem-producing regions that stretch all along the Himalayas through Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and into Burma. Rossovskiy and Konovalenko (1976) have suggested that these separate regions are in fact part of a much larger "South Asian" gem pegmatite belt whose formation can be linked to the sequence of
orogenic events that resulted in the formation of the Himalaya range.
Although gem beryl was found during the archeological excavation of an ancient Greek city in
northwestern Badakhshan, organized mining of
beryl, tourmaline, kunzite, and ruby in Afghanistan dates only from the early 1970s (Dunn,
1974; Bariand and Poullen, 1978). Ostensibly the
mines are under government jurisdiction, but most active mining and selling is done by
independent miners, usually local tribesmen. Because of the volatility of
the current political situation in Afghanistan, the gem-mining areas around Kabul
and Jalalabad are virtually inaccessible to foreign gem buyers.
Once mined, the uncut crystals of emerald, tourmaline, spodumene, etc., are smuggled across the border into Pakistan, primarily into
tribal Agency areas such as Bajaur (surrounding
Peshawar), where most of the trade in Afghan gems
is conducted. To enter Afghanistan, or even to
travel along the frontier Agency areas of northern
Pakistan, one must have special permission from
both the government and the local tribal leaders.
Such passes are nearly impossible to obtain, and
even then there is no guarantee of safety.
The formidable Hindu Kush mountains provide a harsh environment for gem mining, and
many remote gem localities are inaccessible except by many miles of travel by foot. The Hindu Kush
range forms the western end of the Himalayas and stretches from central Afghanistan to the northern
tip of Pakistan. The severe climate in these mountain regions further restricts gem mining.
This report describes some of the gem materials currently originating in Afghanistan. It is
based largely on the author's many years of experience dealing with Afghan gemstones, his previous
travels within the country to purchase gemstones,
and his recent (September 1985) discussions in
Pakistan with several prominent Afghan miners.
THE PANJSHER EMERALDS
Figure 2. This parcel of 87 Afghan emeralds
weighs a total of 140.9 ct and displays the range
of colors found in the Panjsher material. Stones
courtesy of Gem Industries, Inc. Photo by G. W.
Several thousand carats of fine-quality emeralds,
some of which are very similar in color and quality
to those from the famous Mute mine of Colombia,
have emerged from Afghanistan in recent years. The emerald-mining area of the Panjsher
Valley is located approximately 110 (air) km (70
mi.) northeast of Kabul (again, see figure 1). The
Panjsher River, a tributary of the Kabul River, bisects a portion of the Hindu Kush mountain range.
The emerald-mining district lies along the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush, south of the Panjsher River. It currently encompasses six active
mines - Darkhenj, Mikeni, Butak, Buzmal, Bakhi,
and Darun (Neilson and Gannon, 1977).
Access, Geology, and Mining. Although travel in
this area is extremely dangerous at the present
time, access to Panjsher from Kabul is fairly
straightforward. Travel north by field vehicle 58
km to Charikar. From Charikar, travel 14 km
north to Jable-os-Seraj, then 35 km northeast along
the north side of the Panjsher River to Rokha, then
another 29 km to Senya, and - for the last 19
km - by a poor dirt road to where it ends at the
village of Buzmal (Neilson and Gannon, 1977). The
Panjsher Valley is densely populated. The emeralds
occur at an elevation of 3,000-4,000 m, requiring
that the miners walk several hours up the rough
slopes (30°-40° angle) as there are no horse or
The Panjsher emerald locality has been actively mined only during the last 10 years, with the
greatest activity since the early 1980s, although
the deposit reportedly was found by Russian geologists in 1970 (Bariand and Poullen, 1978). Within
this district, the emeralds occur along small replacement or fracture-filling veins.
Neilson and cannon (1977), the veins cut through
host rocks consisting of metamorphosed limestones, calcareous slates, phyllites, and micaceous
schists of Silurian-Devonian age (400 million
years). The veins themselves consist mainly of
quartz and albite, and are apparently related in
origin to a local igneous intrusive rock described as
a quartz-feldspar porphyry. When followed in an
exposure, these veins vary in thickness up to 15
cm. Emerald mineralization along and within the
veins is distributed sporadically, but is often associated with pyrite, which the miners use as an
indication of the emerald. The emerald is believed
to be of hydrothermal origin, and apparently resulted from a chemical reaction between solutions
traveling along the veins and the enclosing host
rocks. According to Mr. Hail Mohamuddin, one of
the discoverers of the Buzmal mine, approximately 1,000 workers are mining emeralds
throughout the valley; 100 men regularly work
Dynamite is used first to identify where in the
host rock the emerald crystals are most likely to be
found. The bombings that frequently occur in this
area occasionally perform the same function.
Using picks and shovels, the miners dig in pits as
shallow as one meter and as deep as several meters
to extract the individual crystals or specimens. In
spite of the extreme weather conditions, the mines
are worked virtually all year, the political situation permitting.
Description of the Material. In general, the
Panjsher emeralds are a rich dark green (figure 2).
The finest stones are similar in color to the fine
emeralds found at the Mute mine in Colombia.
The local miners claim that the Panjsher emeralds
of the best color and quality come from the Mikeni
and Darkhenj mines.
Gem-quality crystals over 10 ct are common.
In fact, a lot of 10 crystals weighing a total of 374.5
ct was recently recovered from the Buzmal mine.
The largest of these crystals weighed 190.5 ct (figure 3). Overall, the Panjsher material is larger and
cleaner than emeralds found in the Swat (see
Gübelin, 1982) and Gilgit regions of Pakistan.
Figure 3. Haji Mohamuddin (left) and Fazal Uddin (right), owners of the Buzmal emerald mine, display
the largest specimen (190.5 ct) from a 374.5-ct parcel of 10 Buzmal emerald crystals that they brought
from the Panjsher Valley to Pakistan. Photo by G. W. Bowersox.
Gemological Properties. A study of the few crystals
and cut stones made available for this purpose
showed the physical and optical properties to be
quite normal for emerald: refractive indices, 1.578
and 1.585 (±0.005); S.G., 2.71 (±0.02); inert to ultraviolet radiation;
and a typical spectrum with
sharp lines at 682, 679, 660, 646, 635, 612, 477, and
472 nm, and a broad absorption band between 560
and 600 nm. When the crystals were viewed with
the microscope, two- and three-phase inclusions,
growth zones, and fracturing were visible. It is
interesting to note that the refractive indices and
specific gravity of this material are somewhat
lower than those for emeralds from the nearby
Swat Valley in Pakistan (Gübelin, 1982).
Distribution and Production. Most of the Panjsher
emeralds are transported (year round) in rough
form to refugee camps in northern Pakistan. The
trip takes approximately 20 days; all travel is by
foot. The border area is particularly dangerous be
cause explosive devices have been scattered
throughout. From these camps the stones are purchased by
Pakistan buyers from Karachi or by the
very few Western buyers who travel to the area.
During the three weeks the author was on the
Afghanistan border in September 1985, he viewed approximately 4,000 carats of cuttable gem-
quality emeralds from Panjsher. According to the
miners with whom he spoke, production of emerald continues on a regular basis despite the war,
and prospects for the future seem excellent in
terms of the emerald resources available.
Emeralds have also been reported from Budel,
in Nagarhar Province, south of Jalalabad (Afzali,
1981). The crystals appear to be relatively small
(1-2 cm maximum); little else has been published
on this locality.
TOURMALINE AND SPODUMENE
FROM THE NURISTAN REGION
Literally hundreds of thousands of carats of good,
gem-quality tourmaline and fine kunzite have
emerged from the Kolum district of the Nuristan
region northeast of Kabul since active mining
began there in the early 1970s. This area is also
known for its production of fine aquamarine
(Bariand and Poullen, 1978; Sinkankas, 1981);
however, because the author has had little experience with this material, and has not seen much
recently, it is not covered in detail here.
The tourmalines and kunzites are found in
pockets within the pegmatites that dot the Nuristan region (figure 1).
The most active mines currently are Mawi and Suraj. In addition, Nilaw and
Korgal have historically been important (Bariand
and Poullen, 1978); Rossovskiy et al. (1978) report
that between 1973 and 1975, more than 1,260 kg of
gem-quality kunzite was mined from the Kolum
Access, Geology, and Mining. Access to this
sparsely populated region is difficult even during
peacetime conditions. From the Kabul-Jalalabad
road go due north to Mehtar Lam approximately 20
km and then 40 km northeast to the village of
Nuristan. The passable road ends several kilometers
past Nuristan, and all further travel to the
mines must be by foot. Bariand and Poullen (1978)
report that they had to travel two full days along
narrow gorges and rocky trails to reach the deposit at Nilaw.
The key geological features of the Nuristan
region have been summarized in Bariand and Poullen (1978). The rocks of this area are quite varied, and include metamorphic (gneisses, schists,
quartzites, and migmatites) and igneous (gabbros,
diorites, and granites) rock types. Details of the regional
geology can be found in Fuchs et al. (1974)
and in Wolfart and Wittekindt (1980).
Gem-bearing pegmatites in Nuristan were
first studied in the early 1970s by Soviet geologists
(Rossovskiy et al., 1976; Rossovskiy et al., 1978;
Rossovskiy, 1981). A number of separate pegmatite localities are known, but the most important
gem producers seem to be those north of the village
of Nuristan at Nilaw, Suraj, Mawi, and Korgal.
The pegmatites vary greatly in size and
shape - in veins or lenses up to 40 m thick and up
to several kilometers long. The pegmatites range
from simple unzoned bodies to those that have
complex internal zonation, but the latter group
appear to be the more important gem sources.
Major minerals include quartz, albite, microcline,
schorl tourmaline, muscovite, and lepidolite,
along with various minor phases. Crystals of gem
tourmaline, spodumene, and beryl occur in cavities up to 50 cm across that are distributed along
the central portion of the pegmatite. These crystals are
quite remarkable in terms of their size,
crystal perfection, and diversity of color. For example, Rossovskiy (1981) describes tabular,
gemmy crystals of spodumene up to 45 cm long
and "pencil" crystals of gem tourmaline up to 20
cm, both in a wide variety of colors.
For the most part, the crystals are found in soft,
powdered clay that fills pockets within quartz-rich
zones in the pegmatite. While the kunzite and
tourmaline crystals usually occur in close proximity (within a few meters) of each other, only occasionally are the two gem minerals found in the
same pocket. Because both are, for the most part,
found in situ in the primary pegmatite, the crystals
are usually well formed and complete.
Approximately 500 miners work the Nuristan
region on a daily basis. To penetrate the hard
pegmatite, they commonly use large drills. The
gem-bearing areas of the pegmatite are usually encountered between 11
and 20 m below the surface.
When they reach a pegmatite pocket, the miners
remove the gem crystals by hand, using only a few
small tools to scrape away the encasing clay. As
with the emerald mines in Panjsher, the Nuristan
miners usually work year round, in spite of the
severe weather conditions that commonly plague
Description of the Material and Gemological
Properties. Tourmaline. Gem tourmaline from
Nuristan occurs in an astonishing array of
colors - various shades of pink, green, blue, and multicolored.
Bariand and Poullen (1978) describe the intense
shades of blue and green tourmaline as the most
valued. The cuttable crystals, which range up to 15
cm in length and 4 cm in width, also represent
magnificent mineral specimens in themselves. For
the most part, these crystals are well formed, often
clean and free of inclusions and fractures, and, at
the time they are purchased for cutting, are free of
matrix. Color zoning perpendicular to the length
of the crystal varies from sharp color transitions to
a smooth grading of one color into another. Most of
the crystals examined in this study were not color
Some data have been published on the Nuristan tourmalines.
Leckebusch (1978) reported
chemical compositions of these tourmalines,
which are elbaites, and related the color zonation
in individual crystals to variations in chemistry.
Dunn (1974) examined a range of tourmalines from
this area, in particular the colorless crystals, or
achroites. For pale to deeply colored crystals, he
reported refractive indices of 1.617 and 1.639
(±0.003) with no particular correlation of these
values with color. For the achroites, the indices
were 1.615 and 1.633. The specific gravity ranged
from 3.02 to 3.07.
Examination of a parcel of green, blue-green,
and blue tourmalines revealed refractive indices of
1.619 and 1.639 and specific-gravity values of
3.04-3.09. The crystals displayed grayish blue to
greenish blue pleochroism. They were inert to long- and short-wave
ultraviolet radiation, except
for some of the color-zoned crystals that were
weakly fluorescent with a chalky bluish color
under short-wave at the pale end of the crystal.
Two-phase inclusions, fractures, and color zoning
were visible with the microscope. In the hand
spectroscope, bands at 495, 490 and 440 nm were
present in the blue crystals, with an additional
band at 540 nm present when the stone being examined was oriented perpendicular to the c-axis.
The spectra displayed total absorption above 598
nm. The most distinctive feature of these tourmalines is their attractive blue to green color.
Spodumene. The spodumene crystals from the
Nuristan region are among the finest examples of
this mineral ever found. Many details on
the pegmatite deposits of spodumene are given in
Rossovskiy et al. (1978) and Bariand and Poullen
(1978). The transparent, gem-quality spodumene
crystals from Nuristan come in a wide range of colors - purple and pink, as well as blue,
green, and yellow. Some of these crystals are up to
one meter in length. In general, they are well
formed, with large, flat crystal faces, relatively
sharp edges, a tabular shape, and are often twinned.
As with tourmaline, the spodumene crystals are
free of any attached minerals at the time they are
sold to gem buyers. As is typical of spodumene,
which is pleochroic, the crystals from this area
display different hues when viewed in different
orientations, with the strongest color for light
passing parallel to the long direction (c-axis) of the
crystal. Dunn (1974) describes some of the crystals
as color zoned, but the crystals examined for this
paper were more or less of uniform color.
From the study of a parcel of light pink
spodumene crystal fragments and several additional faceted stones,
refractive indices of 1.659
and 1.677 (±0.003) and specific-gravity values of
approximately 3.20 (±0.02) were found. These
fragments were pleochroic from brownish pink to
pink. No features were visible in the hand spectroscope. When exposed to long-wave ultraviolet radiation, the fragments displayed a strong orangey pink fluorescence. When exposed to short-wave
ultraviolet radiation, they exhibited a strong bluish pink fluorescence with a red phosphorescence that lasted for about one minute. When viewed
with the microscope, the spodumene fragments
revealed three-phase inclusions, growth tubes, and
cleavages, and displayed twinning. In general,
these properties are identical to those reported for
Afghanistan spodumene by Dunn (1974) and Rossovskiy (l981).
Most spodumene exhibits the property of
tenebrescence, which involves a reversible
darkening and lightening of its color with changes
in conditions (Claffy, 1953). Pure spodumene is
colorless; the various colors (pink, purple, green,
yellow) are due to the presence of trace elements
such as manganese and iron. Manganese substitutes for silicon, and iron for aluminum, in the
spodumene crystal structure. According to Hassan
and Labib (1978) and Nassau (1983), a darkening of
the color of spodumene to pink or purple (kunzite)
can be brought about by exposure to a source of
high-energy radiation (gamma or X-rays) that removes an electron from the manganese and
changes its oxidation state from 2+ to 3+. Further
irradiation produces a coupled oxidation-
reduction reaction involving both iron and manganese to turn the pink spodumene green.
Mn3+ + Fe3+ irradiation > Mn4+ + Fe2+
These radiation-induced color changes are thermally unstable, and the color-change sequence described above can be reversed by exposure to daylight, ultraviolet radiation, or moderate heat of a few hundred degrees Celsius. The exact color-
alteration behavior of spodumene, and the relative
persistence of radiation-induced colors, will vary
depending on the nature of the trace elements and
the color-treatment history of the stones in question. Because it is colored by chromium, which in
spodumene is not susceptible to oxidation or reduction, hiddenite does not exhibit changes in coloration under similar conditions.
When mined, spodumene emerges from the
ground with a blue-violet or green color. This suggests that the crystals have been exposed to some
natural source of radiation that produced these
colors by the mechanism described above. According to the miners, leaving the crystals in the sun for
several days, often after having boiled them in
water, is sufficient to turn the material to an attractive purple or pink color.
Fade tests were conducted to document the thermal stability of the
purple kunzite, and determined that heating crystal fragments to temperatures of 4000C for six
hours was adequate to entirely bleach the pink
color. Exposure of several pieces from a single pink
crystal to direct sunlight produced fading to virtually colorless within
several days (less than a
week). As described above, the pink color can be
restored by re-irradiation.
Distribution and Production. The mined crystals
of tourmaline and spodumene are carried on the
backs of the miners, who usually travel by foot
approximately 560-640 km (350-400 mi.) over
rough mountain terrain and through a border area
dotted with land mines to reach Pakistan. The
author purchased most of his material from miners
whose primary trading area is the Bajaur Agency.
The Nuristan region has produced hundreds of
thousands of carats of gem-quality tourmaline
since 1980. The author estimates that approximately 2,000 kg of fine kunzite are being mined
Although very little mining is being conducted at
the current time because the area is so volatile
politically, a number of fine rubies have been
mined from the southern portion of the Sorobi
district (again, see figure 1). Local miners refer to
the main deposit as the Jegdalek mine. Although
little research has been done on the geology of the
ruby-producing area and the occurrence of the rubies,
it is known that they are usually found in situ
in marble cut by granitic intrusions of Oligocene
age (Afzali, 1981). The crystals range in color from
a light purple-red to a deep "pigeon's blood" red. The best-quality stones are similar to
those found at Mogok, in Burma. The author has
seen fair-quality faceted stones as large as 10 ct,
although top-quality rubies from this area rarely
exceed 5 ct.
While current supplies appear to be small - the
author saw fewer than 100 ct of gem-quality material during his most recent visit
- communications from the miners indicate that the reserves
are significant. Larger amounts of this material
will most likely be available once the political
situation in the area stabilizes.
Gemological Properties. Examination of a small
number of cut stones and crystal fragments of ruby
produced the following properties of a typical
stone: refractive indices, 1.762 and 1.770; specific
gravity, approximately 4.00; moderate to strong
fluorescence to long- and short-wave ultraviolet
radiation; and purplish red to orangey-red pleochroism.
In the hand spectroscope, absorption bands
were visible at 469, 473, 660, 668, 693, and 694 nm,
and a broad band from 520 to 560 nm. Under the
microscope, fractures, small unidentified crystals,
and needles thought to be boehmite were generally
abundant. Some twinning was also noted. The
most interesting feature was a strong blue color
zoning present in some of the rubies.
OTHER GEM MATERIALS FROM
Much has been written about lapis lazuli from
Afghanistan (e.g., Wyart et al., 1981). In recent
years, however, the production and supply of lapis
from Badakhshan has been greater than ever
before, and many examples of superb material can
be seen in gem markets worldwide. In
1981, reserves of 1,300 tons were estimated (Afzali, 1981).
A single deposit of garnets has been found at
Pachighram, in Nangarhar Province. Well-formed
crystals of dark red almandine occur in Proterozoic
schists. The garnet-bearing schists cover an area
approximately 160-240 km wide and 800-1,100
km long (Afzali, 1981). However, the author has
not seen any Afghan garnet for sale in the Pakistan
trading centers during the last three years.
Small quantities of aquamarine are currently
being mined in the area of Gur Salak, in Konar
Province. The rough material occurs in pegmatites
as well-formed crystals up to 2 cm thick and 7.5 cm
long (1 x 3 in.). The crystals range in color from
light blue to dark blue as well as various intensities
The author observed a few morganite crystals
during his most recent trip. These crystals, which
ranged in color from pink to brownish pink to
peach, were reported by Afghan miners to come
from the mine at Mawi, in the Nuristan region.
Spinel has historically been reported from
Badakhshan, northeast of the lapis mines (Scalisi
and Cook, 1983), but little spinel has been seen in
recent years. A 1970s edition of Afghan Development in Brief, published by the Afghan government, reported that amethyst had been found in
both Badakhshan and Kandar. The author has not,
however, seen any of this material in the local
Significant quantities of a variety of high-quality
gem materials are now emerging from northeastern Afghanistan.
More material than ever before
has reached cutting centers in Thailand, Hong
Kong, Germany, Brazil, and the U.S. While the
present hostilities and war-like conditions in
Afghanistan have made mining and subsequent
transportation of the gem materials difficult, the
need for capital appears to have stimulated mining
operations to their greatest heights in many years.
For example, greater amounts of fine-quality lapis
lazuli are available now than at any time in recent
decades. The reserves of tourmaline and spodumene, in particular - and to a lesser extent also
emerald - appear to be good. Political conditions
permitting, Afghanistan should continue to supply significant quantities of these gem materials for several years to come.
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de substances utiles de l'Afghanistan: aperçu génerál.
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Atkinson D., Kothavala R.Z. (1983) Kashmir sapphires. Gems
& Gemology, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 64-76.
Bariand P., Poullen J.F. (1978) The pegmatites of Laghman,
Nuristan, Afghanistan. Mineralogical Record, Vol. 9, No. 5,
Claffy E.W. (1953) Composition, tenebrescence, and luminescence
of spodumene minerals. American Mineralogist,
Vol. 38, pp. 919-931.
Dunn P.J. (1974) Gem spodumene and achroite tourmaline
from Afghanistan. Journal of Gemology, Vol. 14, No. 4,
Fuchs G., Matura A., Scherman 0. (1974) Vorbericht über
geologische und lagerstättenkundliche Untersuchungen in
Nurestan, Afghanistan. Verhanglungen Geologische Bundesanstalt.
No. 1, pp. 9-23.
The Great Geographical Atlas (1982). Rand McNally & Co.,
Gübelin E.J. (1982) Gemstones of Pakistan: emerald, ruby, and
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