Afghanistan is known since ancient times as source of exceptional gems, namely lapis lazuli, tourmalines, beryls, rubies and spinel (Bowersox & Chamberlin 1995). Apart from these rather classic gemstones, Afghanistan is also source for numerous rare collector minerals, such as väyrynenite, triplite, bastnäs

Any gem hunter will tell you that collecting minerals from the soil is a hard job, especially if done in a remote place with rather dry and hot climate conditions and hard rocky soil. So, why not have small and hard-working animals such as ants do the work for you?

Opal can be a very attractive and colourful gemstone. However, some opals, and especially certain samples from Ethiopia (but also from other sources) may show hydrophilic properties, thus absorb and release liquids (mostly water or even humidity in the air) to some extent.

It is always a pleasure for our team to analyse gemstones which are not so common, or sometimes even very rare, but which may compete in beauty and quality (but often not in hardness) with the most prestigious classic gemstones.

Since about three years, we see at SSEF occasionally chrysoberyl samples of very dark purplish to purplish brown colour, sometimes of quite impressive size (>10 ct). Based on chemical composition, these chrysoberyls show distinct concentration of chromium, but no evident change of colour, thus do not fit the cr

Opal comes from the Sanskrit upala and the Latin opalus, meaning “precious stone”. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23/24 – 79) wrote that: “In the opal you will see the refulgent fire of the carbuncle (red gems), the glorious purple of amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald, and all these