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I recently had the opportunity to work in Afghanistan as a translator for the US Department of Defense. I met with the head of the Department f Mining and Minerals of Kunar province, Afghanistan. He came asking for support from the US forces to improve the situation for his extremely under budgeted office that was working to stop people from looting the national treasure of gem stones. It has one the finest quality Lapis, Emerald and Ruby in the world which are often extracted illegally using improper methods such as explosives. There are many gem stone selling shops in almost all US and Nato military bases in Afghanistan.

My curiosity for gems and Afghan rugs brought me to the Chicken Street, in capital city Kabul. This is the largest market for Afghani crafts and gems. The trick to find better bargain is to not let the shop keepers know that you are a foreigner. Otherwise, you have to be a really good negotiator. I was amazed to see the raw uncut Ruby that looked like any ordinary rock. If I had found it I would have probably thrown it away. The uncut Lapis Lazuly is sold by kilos.

Afghanistan is primary known for its Lapis production, but now more and more rocks such as Emerald that is similar to Columbian Emerald from north eastern Punjsher valley, and fine quality Ruby from Jegdelag mines. Also, various colors of Tourmaline and kunzite from bright blue to sparkling peach colors have emerged from Hindu Kush mountain of Afghanistan. The harsh climate on top of these mountains and the safety of miners due to unstable political climate might be diminishing the production of these valuable stones. However the future of their gemology will once again rock when the dust settles.

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Source by Ghulam Abbas


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