Could this gemstone be the key to fixing Afghanistan's economy?

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When you hear 'Afghanistan,' your first mental correlation probably isn't 'luxury gemstones.'

What many don't know is that north of Kabul, Afghanistan, lays a region rich in emerald mines.

SEE ALSO: 813-karat diamond was just sold as the most expensive diamond in the world

Habib Mohebi is trying to change just that.

Mohebi is co-founder of Aria Gems, a company that mines, exports and polishes emeralds from the Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan, known (appropriately so) as Panjshir Emeralds.

Along with co-founder Forrest Snowden, Mohebi's goal is simple – to bring education, safety and regulation to the emerald trade in Afghanistan.

Mubin Shah, a commercial attaché with the Afghan Embassy, explained to CNN Money:


"In Afghanistan, there is a grave issue of lack of education. There are many people in the gems industry who are unlicensed, unprofessional and extracting gems illegally."

Many miners in the region extract the gems by methods (such as setting explosives around the shafts) that are not only unsafe, but also damage the gemstone in the process.

Much of the gemstone trade in the country is also unlicensed and illegal.

Mohebi explained:

"We wanted to help the miners learn safer modern techniques that wouldn't damage the stone. [And] we're training men and women how to cut and polish the stone, too."

Aria Gems has shipped over 30K carats of emeralds since its launch three years ago, all mined from the three underground mines and four acres of above-ground emerald deposits that it owns.

Mohebi and Snowden hope that by growing the number of emeralds they extract, polish and sell, they'll be able to put Afghanistan on the map as a major player in the gemstone business.

Boost the economy, increase employment and successfully regulate an unregulated business practice? Sounds like a sparkling plan to us!

RELATED: Lesedi la Rona diamond going up for auction at Sotheby's

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Lesedi la Rona diamond going up for auction at Sotheby's
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Lesedi la Rona diamond going up for auction at Sotheby's
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: The 1109-carat rough Lesedi La Rona diamond, the biggest rough diamond discovered in more than a century, sits in a display case at Sotheby's on May 4, 2016 in New York City. The stone was found by Lucara Diamond Corp. last year at its Karowe mine in Botswana. The diamond, which is nearly the size of a tennis ball at 66.4 x 55 x 42mm and is believed to be about 2.5 billion to 3 billion years old, was named 'Our Light' in the local Tswana language. Lesedi La Rona will be offered at auction in London on June 29 and be on display at Sotheby's New York. The diamond could sell for $70 million or more. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: Guards stand next to the 1109-carat rough Lesedi La Rona diamond, the biggest rough diamond discovered in more than a century, at Sotheby's on May 04, 2016 in New York City. The stone was found by Lucara Diamond Corp. last year at its Karowe mine in Botswana. The diamond, which is nearly the size of a tennis ball at 66.4 x 55 x 42 mm and is believed to be about 2.5 billion to 3 billion years old, was named 'Our Light' in the local Tswana language. Lesedi La Rona will be offered at auction in London on June 29 and be on display at Sotheby's New York. The diamond could sell for $70 million or more. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: Guards stand next to the 1109-carat rough Lesedi La Rona diamond, the biggest rough diamond discovered in more than a century, at Sotheby's on May 04, 2016 in New York City. The stone was found by Lucara Diamond Corp. last year at its Karowe mine in Botswana. The diamond, which is nearly the size of a tennis ball at 66.4 x 55 x 42 mm and is believed to be about 2.5 billion to 3 billion years old, was named 'Our Light' in the local Tswana language. Lesedi La Rona will be offered at auction in London on June 29 and be on display at Sotheby's New York. The diamond could sell for $70 million or more. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A model poses with an uncut 1109-carat diamond named 'Lesedi La Rona', estimated to realise in excess of 70 million USD (49.5 million GBP, 62 million euro), at Sotheby's auction house in London, on June 14, 2016. The large gem-quality rough diamond will be offered in a stand-alone auction at Sotheby's in London on June 29. / AFP / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
A model poses with an uncut 1109-carat diamond named 'Lesedi La Rona', estimated to realise in excess of 70 million USD (49.5 million GBP, 62 million euro), at Sotheby's auction house in London, on June 14, 2016. The large gem-quality rough diamond will be offered in a stand-alone auction at Sotheby's in London on June 29. / AFP / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
A model holds the 1,109 carat LESEDI LA RONA diamond May 4, 2016 at Sotheby's in New York. The rough diamond, uncovered in Botswana, southern Africa, last year estimated to be three billion years old, will be offered in a stand-alone auction in London on June 29, 2016, estimated to sell for in excess of $70 million USD. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A model holds the 1,109 carat LESEDI LA RONA diamond May 4, 2016 at Sotheby's in New York. The rough diamond, uncovered in Botswana, southern Africa, last year estimated to be three billion years old, will be offered in a stand-alone auction in London on June 29, 2016, estimated to sell for in excess of $70 million USD. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A model holds the 1,109 carat LESEDI LA RONA diamond May 4, 2016 at Sotheby's in New York. The rough diamond, uncovered in Botswana, southern Africa, last year estimated to be three billion years old, will be offered in a stand-alone auction in London on June 29, 2016, estimated to sell for in excess of $70 million USD. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A model holds the 1,109 carat LESEDI LA RONA diamond May 4, 2016 at Sotheby's in New York. The rough diamond, uncovered in Botswana, southern Africa, last year estimated to be three billion years old, will be offered in a stand-alone auction in London on June 29, 2016, estimated to sell for in excess of $70 million USD. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
The 1,109-carat LESEDI LA RONA diamond is displayed May 4, 2016 at Sotheby's in New York. The rough diamond, uncovered in Botswana, southern Africa, last year estimated to be three billion years old, will be offered in a stand-alone auction in London on June 29, 2016, estimated to sell for in excess of $70 million USD. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: (This image has been digitally altered) A view of the 1,109-carat 'Lesedi la Rona': the largest gem-quality rough diamond to be discovered in over a century, and the largest rough diamond in existence today, at Sothebys, New York, NY, on May 3, 2016. The 'Lesedi la Rona' will be auctioned at Sothebys London on 29 June 2016, estimated to sell for in excess of $70 million. (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby's)
A model displays a large diamond at Sotheby's in New York, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The auction house plans to offer the Lesedi la Rona diamond in London on June 29. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A large diamond is displayed at Sotheby's in New York, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The auction house plans to offer the Lesedi la Rona diamond in London on June 29. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A model displays a large diamond at Sotheby's in New York, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. A 3-billion-year-old diamond the size of a tennis ball â the largest discovered in over a century â could sell for more than $70 million, auctioneer Sotheby's said Wednesday. The auction house plans to offer the Lesedi la Rona diamond in London on June 29. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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