Some thoughts on a recent program, “Game of Stones” on the Discovery Channel about a company called The Gem Guys. The cast of characters of this rag tag group of men (“Gavin” the gem expert) (“Fear” the security expert), a broker dude and the leader of the group, “Boss”, are headed down a river in Cambodia in search of “sunset rubies”.

In the program, these stones are worth going through mine fields, swatting at pink cobras, having their boat boarded by drug cartels– all to get to the mine before another rival group came the “legal” way (on roads with checkpoints) to purchase the whole mine. Through mud and crud, this group makes their way to the elusive mine, eats crickets with the boss of the mine, and negotiates $150,000 for 2 pounds of rubies, escaping just as the rival shows up.

Taking their booty back to the “bosses lair”, he “cooks” the stones (as only a select few know how to do, they brag) to release the “sunset” color (whatever that may be, since it’s not a recognized jewelers’ term). Bear in mind, the sack of gemstone ROUGH has many colors of rubies, in many shapes and sizes.

After seven days, the rest of the clan joins their boss for the unveiling. Would they have the “sunset” rubies as promised (and quadruple their investment?), or would the rubies be overcooked and be a bunch of powder? The Boss pulls out a handful of ruby rough, looking the same as it did before the “cooking”. The stones look the same and the group is disappointed. But wait, a packet appears from his desk drawer. SURPRISE! He opens the packet, revealing many hundreds of FACETED rubies, ALL THE EXACT SAME COLOR!!! The stones have miraculously been cut, and they shimmer in the light, reflecting in the eyes of the happy gem hunters.

So ends the story for this band of gemstone wheeler dealers. But not for us.

As ETHICAL jewelers in the industry, we were thoroughly disappointed, dismayed, and at times down right flabbergasted at such a theatrical performance about our industry. I understand drama but please… real jewelers do not get gemstones and diamonds from gun toting foreigners (does the term “blood diamonds” ring a bell?). We purchase them through honest sources, who disclose enhancements and treatments.

Rubies, sapphires and many other gemstones have been heat treated for centuries, and many companies know how to heat treat gemstones to enhance their color. Knowledgeable jewelers are not afraid to educate customers and clients about such enhancements, as well as educating clients about stones that have no enhancements.

It’s entertaining to watch shows of this nature, but please remember that they are “made for television”, and most are far more fiction than fact.

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