Pakistan to Expand Role as Gem Source

July 7, 2005

Pakistan to Expand Role as Gem Source

Pakistan, long known to contain rich deposits of more than two dozen gemstone species and varieties, is seeking to expand its status as a leading zone for gem exploration and mining. It also plans to invigorate its gem trading centers in the cities of Peshawar and Quetta. Both cities are located near the border with Afghanistan, also known for its gemstones, and both have been historical markets for gems from both countries.

In July 2004, the International Colored Gemstone Association announced the ambassadorship of Ambarine Bukharey, a Pakistani gem and mineral dealer based in the city of Islamabad. Buckarey also heads Pakistan's Gems & Jewellery Strategy Working Group, which visited the JCK Las Vegas Show in June, and traveled to New York City to meet with representatives from various gemological laboratories. The group seeks cooperation with gemstone identification projects as well as with efforts to upgrade gemological education at the Gem & Gemological Institute of Peshawar and other gem centers in the country. In addition, ICA reports, the delegation met with World Bank officials in Washington, DC, to seek potential partners for joint venture projects in the exploration and mining sectors.

Bukharey has noted the efforts at the local gem dealers in Pakistan who are attempting to establish a more solid infrastructure for gem trading. Dealer groups have sought partial funding from the Pakistani government in organizing gem exchange centers, which would house gem laboratories, cutting facilities and customs offices facilitating export of gemstones for foreign buyers. Pakistan's Minister of Industries Jehangir Tareen visited Thailand and Hong Kong's jewelry sectors this year, arranging for the first­ever Pakistan Pavilion at the Bangkok Gem & Jewellery Show to be held in September.

Pakistan's best-known gems include beryls – particularly emerald and aquamarine, but also morganite. It has world-renowned deposits of ruby, sapphire, tourmaline, peridot, spinel, moonstone, kunzite, as well as a rainbow of garnets, quartzes and opaque, decorative gems and minerals such as turquoise. Unfortunately, because the market is not yet well-developed or organized, the facts of Pakistan's gem wealth are often overlooked. This is the hurdle Bukharey and the Gems & Jewellery Strategy Working Group wishes to overcome.

"For many people in the gemstone business, Pakistan is a still a mystery," Bukharey said. "It is our working group's task to unveil this mystery and effectively spread the news that our country has more gemstone varieties to offer than almost any other country in the world, and we wish for the world to come help us mine, produce and sell these earth treasures."

by Robert Weldon, G.G.

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