Pakistan has gained a prominent position in the international market for supplying a wide variety of gemstones and mineral specimens. The Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan is enriched with the variety of mineral treasures that include peridot, emerald, aquamarine, tourmaline, topaz, ruby, sapphire, garnet, red spinal, pargasite, actinolite, diopside, epidote, vesuvianite, axinite, rodingite, sphene, fluorite, apatite, zircon, rutile, azurite, moonstone, ametrvst, rose quartz and agate.
Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan is composed of three lofty, snow-covered mountain ranges: Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Karakoram. These geomorphic features reflect the geological setting which, in many respects, is unique in the world. These ranges were formed as result of two collisions between India and Asia that occurred between 100 and 50 Ma (million years) ago. These collisions have induced crustal thickening in these mountains, which has resulted in metamorphism and multiple phases of deformation in these rocks. This was followed by the emplacement of leucogranites and associated pegmatites. Theses geological processes have produced a distinctive mineral kingdom within Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan.
Most of the gemstones are pegmatite-related, such as aquamarine, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, and apatite. Some of the gemstones are hydrothermal and /or metamorphic in genesis such as emerald, ruby, sapphire, pargasite, rutile, azurite and pink topaz. The pegmatites are generally composed of feldspar (albite and microcline), quartz, biotite, muscovite and tourmaline. The important gemstones of Pakistan are listed below:
Emerald is the green variety of beryl. In Pakistan, it is found in the talc-carbonate schist in Swat. The specimen range between low quality pale green to green hue marred by numerous inclusions. Fine quality of an exquisite bluish or yellowish green shade and is highly transparent. The best Swat emeralds were comparable to fine.
Aquamarine is the blue variety of beryl. Pakistani aquamarine has light green and blue coloration, and the crystals are well shaped. Dusso aquamarine crystals are very large in size ranging from 1 cm to 8 cm in width and up to 15 cm long. Large and matchless specimens of aquamarine (about 10 Kg in weight and 40 cm long) are usually associated with apatite or fluro-apatite, topaz, gem garnet, schorl, and sheaths of muscovite, is the specialty of Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan.
Ruby mineralization in Pakistan occurs in the dolomites marble in an extensive belt of more than 100 Km in the Hunza Valley. The well formed crystals are pink to a fine red in color. High quality and transparent rubies also occur in the upper Neelum Valley, Kashmir.
Tourmaline includes elbaite, indicolite and the most valued bright red variety, rubellite. Some varieties of tourmaline shows more than one color, with at least three being reported in one particular specimen. Large, well-shaped, gem quality crystals up to 800 grams in weight are found in the Gilgit and Skardu areas. Gem quality tourmaline occurs in the gem-bearing pegmatite at Stak, Bulechi and Shingus, Gilgit District, Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan.
Topaz is a popular and durable gem. In Pakistan, topaz occurs as euhedral crystals in pegmatites in Gilgit and Skardu Districts. Topaz-crystals may be found in yellowish brown, golden color, honey-yellow, and champagne. Deeper sherry-colored topaz crystals are very popular.
Pink topaz is another variety found in Katlang, Mardan District, Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan. The Katlang topaz is transparent to sub-transparent, colorless, purple or pink and good crystals are free from impurities. The orange rose or cyclamen color is unique in the world. The largest crystal recovered so far is over 7.5 cm in length with deep pink color. The well-formed crystals have the usual faces of topaz. The topaz occurs in calcite and quartz vein within limestone.
Aesthetic Crystals from the Gilgit-Baltistan
The prismatic aquamarine-single crystals offered here are of precious stone quality and distinguish themselves by their clearness and a nice bluish coloring. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for such Aquamarine single crystals to provide reliable information about the exact locality of the finding place in the Haramosh mountains. The locality "Gilgit" usually stands for the place Fiqhar on the east shore of the Hindu, or for Chumar Bakhoor, in the peak area on approx. 4,600 ms (both regions: Gilgit Lower Nagar)