ISLAMABAD: Nature has bestowed Pakistan with vast reserves of mineral ores including many precious gemstones and the government can open new vistas in this industry by giving proper incentives to investors. Different varieties of minerals like peridot, aquamarine, and topaz in different colours of violet, pink, golden and champagne along with rubies, emeralds and rare-earth minerals like bastnaesite, xenotime, sphene and tourmaline make the country prominent in the mineral world.Northern and northwestern parts of the country, from where nearly all minerals which Pakistan is currently offering to the world market have been found so far, are shrouded by the three world-famous mountain ranges Hindukush, Himalayas, and Karakorum. According to official sources, seven out of the 25 precious and semi precious stones and mineral specimens have been intermittently exploited and marketed all over the world.The sources said, “These are emerald of Swat, rubies of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Hunza-Ishkoman, Gilgit, pink topaz of Katlang-Mardan, aquamarine and tourmaline of Gilgit and Chitral, peridot of Kohistan and pargasite of Hunza,” adding that all these gems have beautiful attractive colours, excellent crystal clarity and a range of size as well as weight, meeting any international standard. Inviting investors, they said that tremendous potential existed for investment in scientific mining, cutting and polishing to add value to the gemstones from the known localities as well as for exploration for further findings.Highlighting specifications of the rubies found in Kashmir, Hunza and Gilgit; the sources informed that it was transparent to translucent and brownish pink to pinkish-red and deep red in colour. “The deposit is being mined and the potential resources are estimated at about 24.9 million grams,” they added.The rubies of Hunza and Gilgit have a slight touch of pinkish hue. The main ruby deposits occur in a dolomitic marble belt spanning over 100 kilometers from Hunza valley to Ishkoman; close to the main Karakorum thrust.The topaz of Mardan and Dassu-Skardu, pink to red and colourless in hue, has its own attraction for jewel-lovers. The best known deposits of emeralds are located at Mingora in the Malakand Division, 160 kilometers northeast of Peshawar.“The Swat deposits are producing excellent quality gems, which are considered some of the finest emeralds in the world. The stones have become famous for their brilliance, medium to deep green colour and unique transparency,” the source informed and added that in the belt emeralds had been discovered at Gujar Kili and Shamozai areas.They said quality tourmaline could be found in the Kohistan magmatic arc Zone-6 at Haraosh near Gilgit, Stak Nala between Gilgit and Skardu, Bulecli and Shingus in Gilgit division and Garm Chashma in Chitral.Tourmaline at Haraosh is present in pink, blue, and green varieties, whereas the Stak Nala is now famous for its bi-colour and tri-colour tourmaline. Gem grade tourmaline also occurs at Buleclhi and Shingus in Gilgit, they said. They added that ndicolite (blue tourmaline) was found in the pegmatite belts of Garm Chashma in Chitral. Green tourmaline has also been found in pegmatites of Donga Nar in Azad Kashmir.“Peridot of Indus Kohistan is one of the most beautiful gemstones of Pakistan and is sporadically being mined at different localities. It has already captured market both locally and abroad,” the sources remarked.Pakistan, based on its potential in mineral wealth, can become a great hub of the gemstone industry on a scale comparable to that of Brazil. However, that requires a few essential steps to be taken to enhance the exploration of resources and the growth of gemstone business.