Afghan Gems Have a Future, a Longtime Dealer Says – by Victoria Gomelsky (New York Times – November 22, 2021)

In 1972, Gary Bowersox, a Vietnam War veteran who had owned several retail jewelry stores in Hawaii, paid his first visit to Afghanistan. Determined to grow his burgeoning gem dealing business, he was attracted by the country’s 7,000-year-old deposits of lapis lazuli at Sar-i-Sang in Badakhshan Province, which for millenniums have drawn traders to this ancient crossroads on the border of what is now Tajikistan.

It would become the first of many trips, the most recent of which was less than three months before the Taliban regained control of the country and Western forces withdrew their troops.

“I had met an Afghan going to school in Hawaii whose father was the lead geologist at Kabul University, so that was my entree to the country,” Mr. Bowersox, now 81, recalled in mid-October on a video call from his home in Honolulu.

“We met every night and he gave me lectures on all the different mining situations,” he said. “They had very detailed maps and reports, mostly done by the Russians, and that was the basis of my book, ‘Gemstones of Afghanistan,’ published in 1995. It hasn’t really changed since then.”

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