Folkmarket Team's Hunza Ruby Gemstone Hunting Adventure Story

by Samina Gulzar on Feb 12, 2024

Folkmarket Team Story about Hunza Ruby Mining Areas in Search of Rubies, Spinels


Folkmarketgems is not just a business; we are a team passionate about more than selling stones. We aim to educate our audience on how minerals are mined and discovered by miners and where these precious gems can be found. Our goal is to provide a visual journey for our audience, enabling them to comprehend the fascinating world of gemstones better. To achieve this, our dedicated team plans tours throughout the year, engaging and updating our audience with firsthand experiences. 

In this particular tour, we explore the breathtaking landscape of Hunza Valley in Pakistan, renowned for its natural minerals and having impressive 95% literacy rate. Natural, beautiful mountains and rivers, Hunza is a treasure trove of minerals, including renowned gemstones list like rubies known for their exceptional quality, black and cobalt spinels, topaz, aquamarine and much more. The Folkmarketgems team decided to showcase the beauty and minerals of Hunza through a dedicated tour. 

Hunza's rich geological offerings, including corundum varieties, spinel, topaz, aquamarine, and more, make it a gemstone enthusiast's paradise. Join us on this immersive journey into the heart of Hunza, where nature's wonders and precious minerals await discovery.

Overview of Hunza Ruby Gem Mines Near Me

Upon reaching Hunza, we collaborated with experienced guides who connected us with local miners. We, as a team, took our guide with us in our van, and we went to the area where Ruby stones are mined. Our guide gave us instructions regarding hills, like how to climb and how to keep himself safe and untired. After a long root in the hill, we reached the point where some miners were mining the minerals from the mountain.

1st, we were shocked to see their lifestyles and their skills as they were using some handy tools to break the stones in rocks to extract the minerals. They were very cooperative and friendly people. They stopped their work, gave us their precious time and guided us through all the processes of how they extracted the rubbish and stones from the rocks. They even took us to the cave-like place where they were currently mining the minerals. We enjoyed the view as well, and we also got the information that the man who was the professor from Hunzra found that the minerals in these rocks are 10 million years old in his research; we saw the topaz, quartz and Ruby in the bulk quantity. Actually, this region was famous because of ruby. You can see the visuals, too, by clicking on the link mentioned below.

Brief history of ruby and spinel mining in the region

Hunza, a region within Gilgit Baltistan, is known because of its abundant natural mineral resources, including sapphires, rubies, spinels, quartz, and topaz. The rich history of rubies and spinels in Hunza spans centuries, with these gemstones being key elements of the region's geological heritage.

Rubies have been mined in Hunza for hundreds of years, gaining fame for their exceptional colors, clarity, and rarity. These rubies are typically found in marble plates, varying in size from small to large. Their quality rivals that of Burma's rubies, displaying predominantly red and pink hues, although some green variations are also present. These gemstones hold cultural significance, representing an integral part of the local civilization.

Apatite from Hunza

Local miners and residents in Hunza often operate small shops along the main roads, where they showcase and sell these precious stones. Spinels, another prominent feature of Hunza's mineral wealth, are found abundantly in the region, primarily in red, pink, and purple shades. The spinels from Hunza are renowned for their clarity and vibrant colour brilliance, contributing to their global reputation.

The gemstone trade in Hunza reflects not only the geological wealth of the region but also the cultural heritage and traditions associated with these natural treasures.

Characteristics of Raw Rubies Stones and Spinels

Rubies from Hunza: Rubies from Hunza exhibit 

clear colours and possess a distinct clarity in their structure. Famous because of their rarity, these rubies are known for their transparency and are available in larger sizes. The Hunza rubies have earned a distinguished reputation in the world of gems.

Spinels in Hunza: Spinels, another prominent mineral in Hunza, are renowned for their extensive colour range and exceptional clarity. Found in abundance, these spinels are notable for their larger sizes. The combination of vibrant colours, impressive sizes, and high quality makes Hunza spinels highly sought after in the market.

Introduction to Rockhounding

people who enjoy exploring rocky areas, seeking out minerals, and gathering information about these minerals are known as rockhounding enthusiasts. This term is also used by mineralogists and gem lovers.

 Day-wise schedule for the tour

In 2015, our rockhounding journey began with the formation of our dedicated team. The decision to explore the rich mineral treasures of the breathtaking Hunza Valley was a pivotal one. Starting from Islamabad, we set out on a seven-day adventure, navigating through challenging terrains.

Our first stop was in Naran, where we decided to spend the night to recharge our energy. After a restful night, we resumed our journey towards Hunza, encountering formidable black mountains in the Baltistan region. These imposing rock formations added an element of both awe and adventure to our expedition.

Navigating through difficult routes, one of them is Tata Panni, where landslides were a constant threat, heightened the sense of adventure. The single-lane road bordered by a roaring river on one side created a thrilling yet dangerous experience. Our entire journey was a blend of excitement and trepidation.

Finally, as we entered Hunza in the evening, the majestic landscapes welcomed us. Booking our accommodation and outlining plans for the days ahead, our rockhounding expedition in Hunza was set to unfold.

Visiting key mining sites and landmarks

We went to the village of the miner to make a plan to go with him towards the mining area. Upon our arrival in Hunza, our immediate

plan was to visit the nearest mining village. Unlike the residential areas nestled atop the mountains in Hunza, the miners' village was situated downhill. In our quest, we encountered a man named Faqeer, residing in a cave at the foot of a hill. Despite his humble circumstances, Faqeer graciously served us tea, allowing us to engage in conversation. After securing permission for an interview, Faqeer unveiled the challenging life these people lead.

During the interview, Faqeer shared the hardships of mining, recounting multiple accidents that had left him with a broken leg on five occasions. Despite the challenges, he remained committed and full of energy. Faqeer highlighted the unpredictability of their endeavours—some days yielding disappointment, while others brought abundant finds. The region was renowned for its rubies, and Faqeer shed light on the absence of necessities in the area, coupled with the miners' struggle to receive fair compensation for their efforts.

Faqeer expressed concern over the exploitation by intermediaries who purchased mined Raw stones at minimal costs and sold them in the market at exorbitant prices. He narrated a poignant incident where a middleman bought his stones for 45,000 PKR and subsequently sold them for a staggering 1.15 billion PKR. This revelation echoed the silent struggles of individuals like Faqeer, who dedicated nearly 25 years of their lives to such challenging work.

In conclusion, Faqeer called for government intervention to establish a fair pricing system, emphasizing the need to compensate miners adequately for their relentless hard work. His story left a lasting impact, prompting reflection on the hardships endured by those striving for survival through laborious endeavors.

Dedicated time for Rockhounding Activities

Our entire day was dedicated to immersing ourselves in the miners' lives as they diligently extracted precious stones from the earth. This unique experience provided us with valuable insights into their mining methods. We closely examined the rocks, distinguishing between metamorphic and igneous formations, and attempted to correlate the rock types with the minerals they harboured. 

This day proved to be exceptionally productive, as we not only learned about the geological characteristics of the rocks but also gained visual exposure to the intricate process of gemstone mining. Our analysis extended beyond the rocks themselves; we delved into the atmosphere and identified the specific rock types likely to contain various minerals. Additionally, we observed the miners' lifestyle, recognizing their unwavering efforts and innovative techniques.

This immersive encounter with the miners left an indelible mark on our memories, contributing to a cherished chapter of our journey.

Tools and techniques for rockhounding in the region

We analyzed how miners live in the mining areas and observed that they reside in small caves equipped with essential tools for mining. These dedicated miners employ manual, traditional techniques using tools such as hammers and drills to break stones and extract minerals from rocks. Despite the dangers involved, these hardworking individuals remain committed to their duties, showcasing resilience and dedication to their craft.


Traditional and Modern Mining Methods

Both traditional and modern methods are employed for mining in Hunza. However, a majority of the local population resorts to traditional methods due to a lack of knowledge and resources. In the traditional approach, hammers, machines, and manual labour are used, making it a time-consuming and labour-intensive process.

On the contrary, some individuals opt for modern mining methods, which involve the utilization of advanced machinery such as drills, crushers, and conveyor systems. This modern approach significantly enhances the efficiency of the mining process, making it faster, more productive, and secure.

Tools and equipment used in ruby and spinel mining

As we know, the people of Hunza mostly rely on traditional methods for mining rubies and spinel. During our visit to the mining area, where we spent the day with the miners, we learned that they use basic tools such as hammers, drill machines, crushers, and safety equipment like helmets and conveyor machines. These tools are instrumental in the extraction process of rubies and spinel.

Session on How to Identify Quality Rubies and Spinels

Experienced miners employ various strategies to identify stone-rich areas. During our time with the miners, we discovered their methods. Primarily, they locate mica veins in the mountains and then drill into these areas known as pockets. Stones are extracted from these pockets, and if no more stones are found, they move on to explore new pockets. Check the pockets in the YouTube link mentioned here.

Hands-on practice with rockhounding finds

We visited multiple mining areas for rockhounding, all of which were amazing and terrifying due to landslides and height. At our first mining site, we found quartz and topaz, both openly visible and captured in the video linked below.

Afterwards, we decided to explore a sapphire mine located downward from the mountaintop. Initially, we attempted to walk, but after realizing the difficulty, we rented a jeep. The driver took us to the area near the mine, and upon reaching there, another stamina test awaited us. Once again, we started walking down through random alignments of rocks. It was terrifying to maintain balance and walk downhill, but we managed to do it. Although it was a time-consuming and tiring path, we successfully reached the mine.

Found Topaz and Quartz Crystals 

Upon reaching the mine area, we observed an abundance of stones, including black spinel with calcite and marble stones. These were small pieces of rocks containing small stones, as seen in the video linked below. We proceeded further into the mine and discovered additional colour variants of spinel, as depicted in the pictures within the video. Finally, we also found pink rubies in the mine. This travel experience was truly amazing, as we encountered numerous crystals in bulk quantities openly viewed within the rocks.

    Notable rubies and spinel discovered in the area

    Our Hunza tour was amazing as we visited multiple places and saw a bounty of crystals. In our first mining place, we found various colours of quartz and topaz. These raw crystals in bulk quantity were visible in many quantities. When we visited the sapphire mine area, we saw a number of different spinels like black and blue. These spinels were in small sizes but in very bulk quantities within small crystals of rock. We also found multiple crystals of ruby, one of which was big and was in pink color.

    Impact on the local economy and culture

    The impact on the local economy and culture is huge, considering that all the miners find their livelihoods within the region through mining, a profession passed down from their forefathers. The extraction of valuable minerals, such as rubies and spinels, not only sustains the economic well-being of the local population but also reflects a cultural heritage deeply rooted in mining traditions.

    In the context of the local economy, the residents do not require significant investments for their mining business. Leveraging the popularity of Hunza Valley as a tourist destination, they established local shops along the main roads, selling both the mined stones and jewellery crafted by their skilled hands. This approach enables them to generate substantial revenue to support their families.

    The cultural impact of mining in the region is equally significant. The mining tradition in Hunza is a heritage passed down through generations, preserving the cultural identity of the community. The gems extracted from the mines carry cultural significance and often find their way into traditional jewellery, further strengthening the connection between the people and their cultural roots.

    Furthermore, the extraction of these stones attracts gem enthusiasts and buyers to Hunza, fostering cultural exchanges between different communities. This multifaceted impact underscores the interplay between economic sustenance and cultural preservation within the region.

    Cultural experiences during the tour

    Overall, the cultural experience was amazing in the Hunza valley. The people of Hunza are educated and very cooperative. They are friendly, and they have a helping nature. They spend their lives by doing mining and managing their local shops for tourists. They are looking natural and friendly people. During our tour, we have experienced their culture and traditions. Participating in cultural events and exploring local markets. Overall, the tour not only provided geological insights but also offered a cultural journey, fostering connections and appreciation for the rich heritage of the region.

    1. Local Dishes and Culinary highlights 

    The experience in Hunza was delightful as we explored their local dishes. We tried dishes like "Chapshuro," a stuffed bread with minced meat and spices, and "Khurum", a soup made with local grains, highlighting the region's unique flavours. The valley, known for its abundant fruit yield, offered signature apricots in various forms, including dried apricots and apricot-based desserts. The flavours of these local dishes added wonderful memories to our tour.

    2. Efforts to ensure sustainable mining practices
    During traditional mining, miners go through various accidents and injuries, which shows that they don’t have the proper safety tools and the need for improved safety measures. In collaboration with local representatives, Folkmarketgems is actively ready to take initiatives to prioritize and enhance safety standards in mining areas. We believe in providing support and resources to empower miners and create a safer working environment for everyone involved in the mining process.

    3. Environmental initiatives in the region
    As part of our commitment to environmental sustainability, Folkmarketgems is dedicated to supporting initiatives in the region that promote responsible mining practices. We advocate for environmentally conscious approaches to mineral extraction, emphasizing the importance of minimizing ecological impact. Through awareness campaigns and collaborative efforts with local communities, we aim to contribute to the preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity in mining areas. Our goal is to maintain a balance between economic activities and environmental conservation for the well-being of the region and future generations.

    4. Safety precautions during the tour
    For any tour, safety is our top priority for us for the folkmarketgems team. We try our best to provide the best safety protocols to our team members, and guidelines to minimize the potential risks. Our team is equipped with essential safety gear, including helmets and appropriate footwear, especially in mining areas where there may be potential hazards. We maintain constant communication to address any unforeseen circumstances. Our commitment to safety extends to promoting responsible behavior among participants to create a secure and enjoyable environment throughout the tour. 

    5. Guidelines for responsible gemstone collection and rockhounding
    When engaging in rockhounding, it is crucial to follow certain rules. Avoid searching for stones in government-owned properties such as public parks or reserved areas. Respect public property and maintain a healthy environment. Refrain from using explosives to extract gems from rocks. By following these rules, one can collect gems lawfully and build an impressive collection.

    6. Opportunities for purchasing rubies and spinels
    There are a lot of opportunities in the Hunza to buy gems. You can buy gems direct from miners and also from the local shops. You can also get stones from the authorized dealer in Hunza. Folkmarketgems offers a platform where individuals can explore and purchase a variety of rubies and spinels directly from reliable sources

    7. Local markets and shops
    During our visit to Hunza, we observed numerous local shops where the miners and residents sell their stones. These shops, often run by friendly and welcoming locals, offer a convenient option for gem enthusiasts. If you lack the time for rockhounding, then you can buy from them. These shops provide a variety of stones that you can easily purchase from the main road. It's an impressive aspect of the local gemstone trade in Hunza. And most of the shops in the Hunza are run by women.

    Recap of the tour

    Our tour of Hunza was an amazing experience filled with stunning landscapes, rich mineral resources, and the warm hospitality of the local people. We explored various mining areas, witnessed traditional methods of extraction, and interacted with dedicated miners. The gems, including rubies and spinels, were not only a treat for gem enthusiasts but also contributed significantly to the local economy and cultural heritage. We savoured the local cuisine, enjoyed the unique cultural experiences, and recognized the need for safety measures in mining. The tour left us with unforgettable memories of the beautiful valley and its precious gemstone treasures.

    Closing thoughts and reflections

    Our journey of Hunza was an unforgettable experience which we enjoyed. We will recommend to everyone that you should visit the once in your life to the Hunza and also, we recommend you if you have visited the Hunza then don’t forget to go to the duiker where you will see the amazing sunset view. You will never see an amazing sunset like that one in the world.

    learn also 5 Ethical Behaviours Gemstone Dealers Should Adopt 

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