If you look at the map of Northern part of Pakistan and adjacent provinces of Afghanistan, 30% of the world gem deposits are located here. The area is not explored scientifically i.e. proper geological mapping with reference to gem deposits has never been carried out. In the same way, mining is also not being done on scientific grounds and neither is mechanized. However, gemstones are being mined out by primitive methods for more than one hundred years. History of lapis lazuli, found in Badakhshan province, goes back to five thousand years B.C. Utensils of Cleopatra and other dignities of ancient Egyptians were made of Lapis Lazuli, and the source of Lapis was Afghanistan. In the same way Cleopatra used to adore her eye lids with blue color of Lapis.
Peshawar, cradle of civilization, is the cultural center of the areas approximately 1000 km in radius. It has remained for centuries transit route of caravans traveling from north to south and vice versa. Qissa Khawani bazaar (bazaar of storytellers) reminds one of those times. Modern days Peshawar is still center of trades like dry fruit, herbal medicines, gemstones and carpets. Peshawarittes and Afghans though like to use low priced gemstones and adore their drawing rooms and kehwah khanas (green tea houses) with carpets but prefer to make money when it comes to high priced carpets and gemstones. Naturally, these two products find their ultimate destination in Europe and America. Carpets are finished and value added products but export of gemstones was mostly in rough form (with out value addition). For the first time, Gemstone Corporation of Pakistan (defunct) put things in right direction as far as gemstones are concerned. After Gemstone Corporation was dissolved, gem trade was direction less. The mine owners, the miners and the gemstone traders were not getting their due share of gem wealth, as the export was mostly in un-finished form. Even the finished products were sub standard and treated as pre shaped/pre formed gemstones. Indians, Thais and gemstone dealers in west were the real beneficiaries of Pak-Afghan gemstones. Keeping this in view, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan launched a project named Gems and Gemological Institute of Pakistan (GGIP) Peshawar.
Aims of GGIP were to :-
- Equip local Gemstones dealers with modern knowledge of Gemology and produce skilled labor force for gem cutting industry.
- Promote Gems Sector of Pakistan.
- Boast Gemstones Exports.
- Get maximum benefits of our gems wealth.
- Generate employment opportunities.
In October 2001, GGIP was established by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (Ministry of Commerce – Government of Pakistan) with the collaboration of private sector i.e. All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Associations (APCEA).
Three types of courses were designed with the help of professors of Department of Geology - University of Peshawar, leading lapidary experts and exporters. These courses are Basic Gemology, Gem cutting (Faceting) and Gemstone cutting (Carving)