New glint in gems and jewellery
The northern and northwestern parts of Pakistan are surrounded by three of the world’s major mountain ranges - Hindukush, the Himalayas and Karakoram. These mountains offer a whole variety of minerals that Pakistan offers to the world market, including aquamarine, topaz, peridot, ruby, emerald, amethyst, morganite, zoisite, spinel, sphene and tourmaline.
The gems and jewellery sector of Pakistan has witnessed new growth in the last three years as exports in the sector jumped from $289 million in 2009 to $649 million in 2010. The government’s interventions have remained significant in this regard with the objective of enhancing foreign exchange earnings. In the industrial minerals sector, the government-owned Mining Corporation is effectively helpful to local investors. Also, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources extends assistance in recruiting foreign investment in mining precious and semi-precious stones. Moreover, the projects initiated by Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC) contribute to the development of the industry at a very significant level providing a lucrative platform for local and international trade.
Gemstones Corporation of Pakistan was established in 1979 to explore Pakistan’s own share of wealth in minerals and to facilitate gemstone mining and business in Pakistan. It had valuable influence but ultimately was liquidated in 1997. Now, there are two bodies working for the growth of the industry, i.e. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association (APCEA) which develops rough and un-polished precious and semi precious stones.
Pakistan is both a gemstone producer, the regional trading centre for gemstones from Central Asia and also a jewellery cutting and manufactory centre. The city of Peshawar serves as the first, direct and only market for all minerals found in Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1979, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Before the invasion, Karachi was a bigger market of gems and minerals in Pakistan. Following Peshawar’s rise in prominence, Karachi’s significance and role in gem minerals was reduced.
The strength of Pakistan’s local gem market can be estimated from Peshawar’s Namak Mandi and Mingora in Swat. At Namak Mandi, the traditional pinkish to red rubies coming from Jagdalek in Afghanistan, attractive pinkish to red stone from the new deposit of Murgap in Tajikistan, purplish and dark red stones originating from the Batakundi area and bright red small stones from the Nangimali deposit in Kashmir, emeralds from Panjshir, Swat, Lakhman, Gilgit and also from the new mine located near the village of Davdar in Chinese Xin Jiang, can be seen there. It is a small area comprising two tiny streets, which make up the gem trading centre for Central Asia. Fine crystals and mineral specimen are also easily available from specialized dealers in the market. Similarly, the famous Mingora emerald mine along with other important areas of Sharmoozi, Gudjurkali and the Shangla District provide export quality gems.
For the promotion of the gems sector, Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC), established under the Ministry of Industries and Production, Government of Pakistan, has been committed to the development of the Gems and Jewellery Industry of Pakistan from mine to market in the areas of skill development, technology up-gradation and marketing. The idea of organizing ‘Gem Bazaars’ in different cities including Peshawar is to enhance value chain productivity and provide a stable platform for buyers and sellers of the gemstones and mineral specimen under one roof.
Importantly, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s (UNIDO) Investment Promotion Unit (IPU) has developed a special investment package for the gems and jewellery sector of Pakistan. All the stakeholders have aligned the future initiatives of the plan. IPU presented its services for facilitating cooperation between Pakistani and Italian gems and jewellery companies to assist them in accessing an Italian credit line of 7.75 million Euros.
Pakistan’s gems and jewellery sector has the potential to generate a revenue of $1.5 billion by adopting modern techniques and methodologies and the potential can be converted into gains to benefit the economy