Peshawar - Known as home to precious and semi-precious varieties of gemstone treasures, Pakistan is a unique country with abundance of its deposits including the world famous emerald, ruby and sapphire offering great opportunities for investors to earn substantial economic gains and contribute in the country’s economic growth and development.

Ranked as fifth among world countries having the largest latent gemstones reservoirs, the country’s northwest and northern areas including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and southeast of Balochistan are blessed with plenty of unexplored gemstone deposits mostly found in lofty mountains ranges of Hindukash, Himalya and Karakuram.

The rare-earth minerals such as Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Aquamarine, Topaz, Quartz, Zircon, Garnet, Turquoise, Peridot, Spinet, Tourmaline, Feldspar, Agate, Lapis Lazuli, Opal, Moonstone, Feldspar, Agate, Kunzite and many others varieties had made Pakistan a country rich of gemstone deposits.

Emerald of Swat, Topaz of Mardan, Peridot of Kohistan and Ruby of Azad Kashmir have been globally recognised as one of the best gemstones in the world due to its brilliance clarity, durability and glittering designs. The bordering areas of Pakistan with Afghanistan are naturally bestowed with huge gemstones’ deposits having an easy access to Peshawar, making it a hub of gemstones trading besides drawing jewellers and mineral specimen collectors from across the region.

Established in 1980, Peshawar’s Namak Mandi has turned as the epicentre of gemstones business in KP where wide range of varieties of gemstones including Aquamarine, Pargastie and Tourmaline of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan attract investors and jewellery traders from Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics and GULF.

Wadan Khan, a leading gems exporter, told APP news agency that over 200,000 people were directly or indirectly associated with this profitable business in KP including nearly 50,000 in Peshawar, contributing in the country’s economy. He said, “Gemstones were a very lucrative and cost-efficient business and any person with technical knowhow and Rs500,000 investment can earn a profit of about Rs10,000 per carat from Emerald and Sapphire.”

“Ruby is one of the beautiful and expensive Red Gem mostly found in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Hunza Valley and its per carat price ranges from Rs10,000 to Rs500,000 depending on its crystal clarity, cutting and designs,” he added.

World famous emerald, ruby, sapphire offering great opportunities for investors to earn substantial economic gains, contribute in economic growth

Wadan said sometimes these precious gemstones were either lost during blasting due to lack of modern equipments or their designs became out of shape due to use of sharp tools during search process at airports that needed to be avoided.

He said, “Mostly the non-professional residents of mining areas are actually the ones who mine these jewels in a hazardous and traditional way, causing damage to this latent wealth and proper training to local miners would help avoid its loss during excavation.”

Wadan said, “Majority of stone cutters and polishers of KP manually do stone faceting on archaic machines, and a lot of time was being consumed to bring inherent luster and desired symmetry of stones as per requirement of domestic and international investors.”

The potential of the gemstone industry of Pakistan is enormous when it comes to adding to the national economy. The country has a potential to export 800,000 carat of Ruby, 87,000 carat of Emerald and five million carat Peridot per year, according to statistical data of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

According to TDAP, the country’s gems and jewellery exports had risen from $14.1 million in 2018 to $14.6 million in 2019 while more than 80 percent of the revenue comes from unprocessed and raw gemstones.

The data further revealed that gemstones’ exports has raised by 123.13 percent with an export value of Rs167 million, cotton and cloth exports was up by 50.1 percent with an export value of Rs35.4 billion while carpet, rugs and mats exports was increased by 27 percent with an export value of Rs1.4 billion during November 2021 possible due to the government’s prudent economic and trade policies.

“The economic value and profit of gemstones is beyond one’s immigration. The APCEA had contributed about four million dollars through gemstones exports to national exchequer in 2020-21,” said Mahar Muhammad, Secretary All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association (APECA) while talking to the news agency.

In-spite of rich gemstones reservoirs and availability of raw materials, he said this latent wealth was yet to be fully tapped due to use of primitive methods in exploration, archaic tools, unavailability of modern technology and appropriate expertise to workforce.

Naveed Masood, Director Gems and Gemological Institute of Pakistan (GGIP) Peshawar said that over 4,500 students and gemstones miners had been trained since establishment of the institute in 2001. He said that professional six months training to another batch of 25 students and gemstone minors has been scheduled in March under PTI government ‘Kamayab Jawan Programme.’

Sabz Ali Khan, Director TADP Peshawar, said that a draft act for establishment of Gems and Jewellery Authority (GJA) has been approved by the federal cabinet. He said the government has included gemstones in the first list of priority sectors in Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF 2020-2025) to bolster its exports.

He said CPEC has created new opportunities for our traders and businessmen to promote their business beyond the borders. He said Peshawar was going to become a business hub for Pak-Afghan and Pak-CARs bilateral and transit trade.

Javed Khattak, Chief Executive KP Economic Zones Development and Management Company, said that mines, minerals, gems and jewellery sectors was going to embrace more opportunities in terms of technology transfer and our exports would touch new heights after completion of CPEC projects.

Gemstones City would be set up in Peshawar where all modern facilities including training to gemstone entrepreneurs, certification, polishing and cutting, use of machinery in exploration, marketing, packing as per international standards would be provided under one roof, he informed. The use of modern technologies for cutting and polishing of gemstones would be encouraged while full cover to the gemstone sector has been given in KP Mines and Mineral Policy, he concluded.