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Precious Stones

Precious and semi-precious stones have been prized for centuries for their aesthetic qualities and use in jewellery. The market for high quality stones is now quite sophisticated and they can attract higher prices than equivalent sized diamonds.

Precious Stones in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been blessed with a great variety of precious and semi-precious stones with 73 records of mines, deposits, occurrences and showings. In fact, some of the earliest records of mining anywhere in the world are from Afghanistan, dating back over 6000 years. Most operations today are small-scale, but the potential undoubtedly exists for the development of a significant precious stone mining industry in Afghanistan. Four different stones are described below, but Afghanistan also has occurrences of other stones such as aquamarine, amethyst, and topaz.

Click here to download a brochure on the Gemstones of Afghanistan.


Lapis-Lazuli 132 lb. (60 kg) Lapis Lazuli rough for carving.
Reproduced courtesy of Gary W. Bowersox

Afghanistan is the world's leading producer of lapis-lazuli from the Sary-Sang mine in Badakhshan province. The deposit is hosted in Archean metamorphic rocks that have been intruded by alaskite granite and basic dykes.  This has led to the formation of north-south skarnified zones in the calciphyre facies of the country rock. Nine zones have been identified thus far containing ten different lazurite grades, the largest being 250 m long and extending for 125 m downdip.


Emerald ring 5.72 carat Emerald ring with .62 carat total weight round brilliant diamonds set in 18 karat gold.
$36 000.

Photo by Kevin Carpenter
Reproduced courtesy of Gary W.  Bowersox

Emerald production from the deposits of the Panshjer valley in Kapisa province was estimated at up to $12 M in 1995. Six small mines are known within a 16 x 3 km zone consisting of Ordovician carbonates intruded by diorite-gabbro and quartz porphyry dykes. The mineralisation is confined to stockworks of quartz ankerite and dolomite within the altered units, although the best quality gems are often in veins that cross-cut gabbro and are typically up to 1.5 cm long and 3 mm thick (however larger crystals have been found). Afghan emeralds are said to be similar in quality to those of Colombia.

Jegdalek ruby necklace 32.32 carat ruby pendant. The ruby is from Jegdalek, Afghanistan. It was fashioned in glyptic illusion fashion by Bart Curren. The 18 karat gold pendant was designed and built by Gregg Crawford.
$100 000.

Photo by Kevin Carpenter
Reproduced courtesy of Gary W.  Bowersox

The Jegdalek ruby prospect in Kabul province occurs in a calcite-dolomite marble bed that has been intruded by an Oligocene granite. A ruby concentrate from the mineralised bed yielded up to 157.3 g/m3. Spinel has also been mined in Badakhshan province, close to the Tadjikistan border. Stones from here are believed to be part of the British crown jewels.


Tourmaline and kunzite Tourmaline from Nuristan, Afghanistan.
Reproduced courtesy of Gary W.  Bowersox

Kunzite and tourmaline crystals are found in pegmatites in the Laghman province and are associated with rare metal enrichment. The most developed deposit is that at Kolum where two irregular albitised-microcline dykes intersect a Cretaceous gabbro. The 'Main' dyke (3 km x 0.5/20 m) contains rounded cavities which contain multicoloured gem quality tourmaline. The smaller 'Kunzite' dyke (150 m x 5 m) also contains rounded cavities that can yield up to 24% gem quality kunzite stones for faceting. Quality crystals can be up to 30 x 7.5 x 1.8 cm in size.

Kunzite and lapis necklace Rough cut rubies
124-carat kunzite and diamond pendant with inlaid lapis lazuli, designed and crafted by Greg Crawford. 
Photo by Chuck Lund. $29 000
36 pieces of rough ruby crystals, weighing 59 carats, from Jegdalek, Afghanistan.
Emeralds in quartz matrix.
Aquamarine crystals Seaspray, a 375 carat Afghan aquamarine All images reproduced courtesy of Gary W.  Bowersox
A set of aquamarine crystals from Nuristan, Afghanistan. A 375 carat Afghan aquamarine named "Sea Spray," sculptured by Bart Curren.
$52 300

. . . some of the earliest records of mining anywhere in the world are from Afghanistan, dating back over 6000 years . . .

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