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Land of the Afghans

Land of the Afghans

By Lauriane Lognay

Tourmaline rough from Afghanistan with a lapis lazuli ring.
Tourmaline rough from Afghanistan with a lapis lazuli ring.
Photo by Lauriane Lognay, Rippana Inc.

Anyone and everyone who has worked in the jewellery industry has encountered gemstones sourced from Afghanistan. The name ‘Afghanistan’ means ‘Land of the Afghans,’ in reference to the country’s largest ethnic group at the time of its formation (in present day, this group is known as the Pashtuns).

Afghanistan has long been a land of conquering and being conquered. Indeed, historically, it is a country full of strife and conflict, both internally and externally. Located between Asia and Europe, Afghanistan has often found itself in the middle of international disputes. Darius I of Babylonia, Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Genghis Khan, and Mahmud of Ghazni are just a few of the several conquerors who rained down on the country to make it their own.

It was not until 1921 when, following three British-Afghan Wars, Afghanistan was declared an independent country. In 1926, a monarchy was established (in place of an emirate), leading to certain stability for the next 40 years or so. This period was followed by a series of coups, an overthrowing of the monarchy and then of the government, assassinations, and a heavy dose of Soviet influence.

The history of this storied country is certainly long and complicated, and a simple article would not be enough to explain its years-long intricate complexities. The true purpose of this condensed history serves, instead, to demonstrate how Afghanistan has been in a state of instability for centuries. Further still, the overall objective of this column is not to take sides in this conflict, but, rather, to focus on the impact of this instability on the gemstone industry and how our actions might unwillingly influence it. While we do have a limited use of words here, I will try and express the limitless entity which is Afghanistan soil.

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