Rich History

panjshir valley

The word Panjshir is a combination of two words from the Dari language: Panj and Shir. In Dari, “panj” means five in Dari and “shir” means Lion. Thus, the name literally comes to mean, Five Lions. Legend has it that the valley was named after five brothers who created a dam for the Sultan, Mahmud of Ghazni, in the early 11th century; the foundations of which, are still being used for a modern reservoir.

Panjshir Valley is located 150 KM North of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan and is divided by the Panjshir River. The valley lies at the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountain, which forms part of the Himalayan Mountain System. Panjshir Valley is known for its scenic landscape; lush green valley, rich apricot orchards and river charging through the valley flanked by some of the tallest peaks in the world. The Valley is often referred to as the Tranquil Valley and is one of the most peaceful regions in Afghanistan.

In the Spring of 329 BC Alexander the Great crossed the Hindu Kush Mountains into Bactria, which includes present day Afghanistan and Iran, in pursuit of the Satrap of Bactria, Artaxerxes V. Under the Greek rule, Bactrian emeralds were widely traded throughout the Greek and later the Roman Empire. It is now  believed that these “Bactrian emeralds”, as they were known, most likely came from Panjshir Valley.  Pilny the Elder would later describe them as “greener than green.” These emeralds were highly prized and valued for their calming and soothing effects in ancient Rome. Nero watched the Roman games in the coliseum through a pair of emerald encrusted glasses.

Panjshir Valley has the potential to become a major hub of emerald mining. Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey stated that Afghanistan has mineral reserves worth over one trillion dollars. Although emerald mining in Panjshir Valley dates back to at least 2000 years, it is only recently that the valley is beginning to emerge as an important source of emeralds. Aria Gems is the first and the largest company to legally export emeralds from Panjshir.

When you buy an Aria Gems’ emerald you are buying a piece of history.