Gems jewelry in Pakistan a story of neglect

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The global gems and jewelry market is projected to grow at the rate of 5.5% during the forecast period 2018 to 2023. The market is expected to witness a strong growth during the forecast period owing to the increasing demand for branded jewelry due to distinctive designs, rise in demand for artistic jewelry, credibility, and quality, rising focus on e-commerce sales in both developed and developing market and increase in wedding budget, especially in bridal weddings.
In addition, there’s an increase in cross-cultural designs, which will increase the growth of gems and jewelry market in the coming years.
Pakistan is blessed with huge natural treasures if exploited on modern lines could change the socioeconomic status the country, as it could contribute immensely in earning of foreign exchange, besides providing huge employment opportunities to our unemployed educated youth.
World’s most desired colored gemstones, such as Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz, Aquamarine, and Tourmaline are found in Pakistan, which makes the country prominent worldwide. Besides, Pakistan has deposits of several minerals including coal, copper, gold, chromite, mineral salt, bauxite and several other minerals.
However, no government in Pakistan ever paid any attention to the sector, which could play an important role in the revenue generation of the country besides changing life of thousands families associated with business.
In 1979, Gemstones Corporation of Pakistan was established to develop the gemstones sector in Pakistan, however in 1997 the corporation liquidated. Now a number of organizations are working in this sector including All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association of Rough & Unpolished Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (APCEA) and Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC). Pakistan Gems and Mineral Show is held annually in Peshawar since 1994, however it has not attracted much attention from potential international buyers. The Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation is the responsible authority for the support and development of the mining industry.
Baluchistan province is the richest in mineral resources available in Pakistan. Sindh discovered coal deposits in Thar, while most of the mineral gems found in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
Out of 25 precious, semi-precious stones and mineral specimens, seven were intermittently exploited and marketed all over the world. These are Emerald of Swat, Rubies of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Hunza-Ishkoman, Gilgit, Pink-Topaz of Katlang-Mardan, Aquamarine and Tourmaline of Gilgit and Chitral, Peridot of Kohistan and Pargasite of Hunza and all these gems have beautiful attractive colours, excellent crystal clarity and a range of size as well as weight, meeting any international standard.
Despite the presence of concerned bodies including Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, All Pakistan Commercial Exporter Association and Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, besides holding of regular gems and stones exhibitions at different level, no significant development is taking place to tap the exploited potential in the gemstone sector.
They usually form groups that initiate diggings and blasting in precious and semi-precious stones potential areas, damaging the quality and quantity of the jewels. Pakistan, based on its potential in mineral wealth, has the great potential to become a hub of the gemstone industry, on a scale comparable to that of Brazil, by taking a few essential steps to enhance the exploration of resources and growth of gemstone business.
The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has three large mountain ranges: Hindukush covers the area to north and north-west, Karakoram to the north and north-east, and Himalayas to the east. These mountains have been found to be extremely rich in the minerals deposits. Deep green Emerald of Sawat valley and rare pink Topaz of Katlang are one of the most precious gemstones in the world market. According to Bureau of Statistics of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2568 tonnes of baryte and 85 tonnes of corundum were produced in 2005-2006 and 1416 tonnes of quartz was produced in 2006-2007 in the province. Swat has reserves of 70 million carat s of emerald, Mardan has reserves of 9 million carats of pink topaz and Kohistan has 10 million carats worth of reserves of peridot.
Swat is blessed with emerald, various types of quartz and epidote, Katlang (Mardan division) with Pink Topaz; Dir (Malakand division) with corundum and quartz; Mansehra (Hazara division) with corundum and smoky quartz; Kohistan (Hazara division) with Peridot; while Peshawar district is rich with quartz with astrophyllite /reibeckite fiber inclusions, xenotime and bastnaesite.
Similarly, the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which is now merged into KP, is also extremely rich in mineral and gems reservoirs. District Mohmand Agency is blessed with emerald, clinozoisite, sphene, and epidote, district Bajaur Agency with emerald, garnet, and orange-colour scapolite, district Khyber Agency with quartz with astrophyllite/reibeckite fibers inclusions, xenotime, and bastnaesite, while districts North and South Waziristan are blessed with faden quartz, diamond quartz, phantom quartz, chlorite-included quartz and window quartz.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is blessed with huge natural treasures worth billions of rupees. The significant deposits of matchless quality of gem stones like ruby, sapphire, green tourmaline, aquamarine and zircon, but unfortunately no due investment ever been made by the quarters concerned to utilize this wealth for human well-being.
Huge natural reservoirs including alluvial diopside, zircon, rutile quartz, aquamarine and tourmaline have found in Chilas (Diamer district). Similarly, Gilgi, Hunza and Shigar (Gilgit district) have great deposits of aquamarine, topaz (golden and white), emerald, ruby, pollucite, rutile quartz, morganite, apatite, spinel and pargasite.
Shengus, Stak Nala and Tormiq Nala (Baltistan Skardu Road, Baltistan district) are blessed with aquamarine, topaz, tourmaline, apatite, sphene, morganite and quartz, Shigar Proper (near Skardu, Baltistan district) with apatite, zoisite, rutile quartz, epidote and morganite, while Childee, Kashmal, and Yuno (Shigar area, near Skardu, Baltistan district) is rich with aquamarine, emerald-colour tourmaline, apatite, morganite, topaz and quartz.
Moreover, Hyderabad, Testun, Dassu, Net Tahirabad and Goyungo (Shigar area, Baltistan district) have abundance deposits of Golden Topaz, aquamarine, tourmaline, morganite, rare earth minerals, apatite, quartz and emerald.
Appu Aligund, Fuljo, Braldu, Bashu and Karma (Baltistan district) are blessed with reservoirs of tourmaline, aquamarine, garnets, diopside, ruby, pargasite, emerald, topaz, amethyst, scheelite, and quartz, while Khappalu and near Siachin area (Gaanshai area, Baltistan district) are known for aquamarine, amethyst and fine golden rutile quartz.
Balochistan possesses great unexplored potential of metallic and non-metallic minerals. Presently, the minerals being exploited are: Coal, Chromite, Barytes, Sulphur, Marble, Iron Ore, Quartzite, Limestone and Sulphor.
Kharan district possess brookite, anatase and quartz, while Chaman (near Quetta) is rich with diamond quartz, window quartz, quartz on prehnite-base, and faden quartz included by chlorite.
Sizable deposits of this mineral are found at Muslimbagh, district Killa Saifullah. Lasbela, Khuzdar, Kharan and Chaghi districts have chromite reserves. Private sector has been engaged in mining this mineral.
The southern port city of Karachi was once the biggest market of facet and rough cut gems in Pakistan. However, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the significance of Karachi was reduced and Peshawar became the hub of gemstones trade. Peshawar is the only direct market for all gems found both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company regularly holds Gem Bazaars (exhibitions) in Quetta and Peshawar where gemstones attested by Gemstone Identification Laboratory are traded. In Islamabad, such exhibitions have been held. In January 2012 exhibition, around two hundred companies from Pakistan displayed their items. The third Islamabad Gem Exhibition was held in February 2013 where 80 national gem traders displayed their products.
The Government of Pakistan has established gem identification laboratories in major cities of Pakistan to promote the gemstone trade in Pakistan. For this purpose, Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company is working in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad and Sargodha cities where the major share of gemstone trade exists. Since the inception of Pakistan Gems & Jewellery Development Company, the gemstone trade in Pakistan has seen a major uplift.
There are also some private gem identification labs in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar which have qualified gemologists working in their labs.
Tremendous potential existed for investment in the subject of scientific mining, cutting and polishing for value addition of gemstone from the known localities and exploration for further findings. The specifications of the Ruby of Kashmir, Hunza and Gilgit, it is transparent to translucent and brownish pink to pinkish-red and deep red in colour. The deposit is being mined and the potential resources are estimated at about 24.9 million grams. The Ruby of Hunza and Gilgit have a slight touch of pinkish hue.
There is the need, on part of the government, of conducting surveys in the potential areas in collaboration with reputable institutes to attract foreign investors in this sector, which can significantly contribute to the national kitty. According to a report, mostly non-professional residents of mining areas are actually the ones who mine these jewels of earth in their hazardous and traditional way of mining.

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