Dealing in lapis lazuli from Afghanistan

Sam Naseri
Global Gems
Interview with Sam Naseri, Global Gems
Mr Naseri grew up in the lapis trade, working in his father’s business as a young boy. Born in Afghanistan, he rightfully claims a deep knowledge of this gem of his native land.

He starts by showing off his company’s best-quality lapis lazuli samples and describing their various component minerals and grades. His company sells rough, but also makes spheres, carvings, beads and other items from this lovely blue material.

The best royal blues come from only two mines in the world, in Chile and Afghanistan, with Afghanistan the preferred source. Mr. Naseri explains that older material - from a mine that’s no longer in operation - is of much higher quality than newer material. It’s now extremely rare, and in great demand among gem buyers and consumers.

Surrounded by his company’s product, he demonstrates the entire range of lapis quality. He sprays one of his high-quality samples with water, which brings out its desirable features, then holds two spheres of different grades side by side. He explains that lapis has good hardness, making it easy to polish with the right equipment. Buyers look for as much usable area as possible when buying rough.

When asked how lapis lazuli gets from mine to market, he says that it’s carried by cars, horses, humans, mules: any transportation available at a given time. Global Gems sells in the US and internationally. Customers include designers, inlayers and makers of jewellery and beads. Larger specimens are used for high-end patio and tiling projects.

This series of interview segments reveals a man with a true love for, and deep knowledge about, the beautiful and exotic gem he trades in.

Mr. Naseri was at Tucson with a large quantity of rough lapis lazuli, along with other materials like sugilite and a variety of beads. He has been in the gem business since his childhood and travels to Afghanistan to buy lapis lazuli. In his interviews, Mr. Naseri discusses all aspects of trading in lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, including government regulations, transportation of material, evaluating quality, old and new production, mine locations and the market.