Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 1991, Vol. 27, No. 1

Emeralds of the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan

With the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, villagers in the Panjshir Valley are turning their attention to the emerald riches of the nearby Hindu Kush Mountains. Large, dark green crystals have been found in the hundreds of tunnels and shafts dug there. Teams of miners use explosives and drills to remove the limestone that hosts the emerald-bearing quartz and ankerite veins. The gemological properties of Panjshir emeralds are consistent with those of emeralds from other localities; chemically, they are most similar to emeralds from the Muzo mine in Colombia. "Nodules," previously reported only in tourmaline and morganite, have been found in Panjshir emeralds as well. Approximately $10 million in emeralds were produced in 1990; future prospects are excellent.