Ruby is one of the most precious stones like diamond and emerald. Afghanistan has abundant ruby reserves in various provinces; however, proper surveys have not yet been conducted to identify its volume and worth. Badakhshan, Kunar, Panjsher, Nuristan and Jegdalak area of Kabul province are rich in ruby, but little data are available.
Known locally as Badakhshani ruby Afghanistan is famous for dark red and dark blue rub. It is widely believed that rubies from Afghanistan were used in British crown jewels. Afghan King Taimoor Shah also had his palace decorated with ruby from Badakhshan.
The widely known Jegdalak ruby mine is situated 35 kilometres west of Sarobi district and 100 kilometres east of Kabul city. The mine stretches over a 15 square kilometres area.
There was some digging in Jegdalak mine by Russians in the past. Exact volume and quantity of ruby is yet to be identified. However, reports say each cubic metre area has 2/122 to 3/157 grammes of ruby.
Jegdalak mine is divided into two parts; one part is under the control of the government while the other is occupied by locals who claim that the site has been their property from the reign of Amir Sher Ali Khan and Amir Dost Mohammad Khan.
The excavation of stones is being done in the most primitive and unskilled way with hammer and pickaxe. Internationally known as one of the best rubies, the Jegdalak mine has several sites from where ruby can be extracted.
Locals of the area have gained enough knowledge about the quality of stones and they can identify different kinds of ruby by looking at its colour.
Apparently Mughal emperor Shah Jahan used Jegdalak ruby in the decoration of the renowned Taj Mahal when he had it built in memory of his wife.
Garnet of Badakhshan
Garnet is a stone close to ruby even though there is some difference in its colour. The garnet stone mine of Badakhshan province is located in Gran area of Eshkashim district.
The garnet stones of northern Badakhshan have been excavated in an unregulated way for a long time by the locals and the government is unable to control it.
In addition, the Khash and Kashkan district of Badakhshan province also have large deposits of garnet stones and its illegal excavation is underway for a long time by the local influential individuals. The government has failed to prevent this unauthorized excavation as in Sarobi district of Kabul province.
The director of the provincial mines department Mohammad Akbar, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the exploration of garnet and ruby involves hard work and require latest machinery, but the government has been unable to provide the much needed funds. He said the excavation process is halted because of the government’s inefficiency to tap the resources.
Nuristan Ruby Mine
The residents of eastern province of Nuristan say that the province is rich in ruby reserves; however, proper surveys are yet to take place to determine the exact volume of the ruby reserves.
Mohammad Ibrahim, head of goldsmiths association in Kabul province, told Pajhwok Afghan News that smugglers were involved in unauthorised excavation of ruby, which was damaging the mines.
Similarly, ruby can be found in Kunar and Panjsher provinces as well. The stone is largely known as king of all the stones because of its hardness. Two kinds--- crystal and non-crystal – ruby exist in these mines. These rubies also appear in different colours.