Do reality TV shows like:
Gem Hunters, and Game of Stones, Prospectors, etc., portray an accurate view of how gems and minerals are actually mined, procured, cut, polished and sold?
People like Rob Leblanc who have a long history buying and selling gems, now blog about their "Indiana Jones Adventures " complete with video narratives and staged footage of them searching for rough gems in the no mans land of Madagascar, mine fields of Mozambique, or the Jungles of Burma, the hills of Columbia, blah blah blah.
The Discovery Channels show "Game of Stones" is even worse, the main star is a guy named Don Kogen a self proclaimed "Extreme Gem-hunter" and who professes to run around the globe with a merry band of misfits taking on the Gypsy Mafia, and a host of underworld figures, and international bad guys.
Don Kogen accomplishes his missions on behalf of nameless super rich clients accompanied by his logistical team leader, his Aussie gem cutter, and a chubby little security officer who goes by the TV name "Fear" (sadly for the show, "Fear" inspires more humor than he does intimidation).
Of course good old Don manages to secure the amazing rough gemstone from some godforsaken hell hole that only HE could locate, and fights his way back to his super rich customer with a finely polished stone of the worlds greatest quality...
Yea, ok, sure, a fun premise, and I just might believe it if this were the year 1821 and in stead of "Fear" Dan was accompanied by a crew of heavily armed Texas rangers and maybe Lewis & Clark thrown in to boot!
Yet even respectable organizations like GIA are not immune to the nonsense!
Their main field gemologist Vincent Pardieu, (a man who's ego is rumored to proceed him), and who publishes a blog with articles comprised of solid gemological field work, tends to intermix his own flare for fantasy into his writings. Oddly enough, he even sports the Harrison Ford lookalike hat!
These shows and their cast of characters are all slightly different, and a few of them appear a bit more tongue in cheek as to the plausibility of their TV exploits, (even joking about them in off camera interviews) ....but not all.
Some of them are appear quite willing to take on the brand of being the James Bond of Gems, going so far as to toss themselves into rivers, bushwhack through rain forests, battle elements, corrupt government officials, roving militias and bandits...
...and if you buy any of it, there is a bridge in Brooklyn we'd be happy to sell you.
The funny thing is, that when you take a look at these people, you would barely believe they do anything more than battle their way past the buffet line at the 5 star hotel the production companies put them up at.
The Weather Channels show "Prospectors" offers a a slightly different spin, here you get a portrayal from the miners point of view, every episode the cast of Colorado prospectors finds themselves battling rock slides, ominous claim jumpers, and the ever changing threat of doom and gloom weather, one of them, a woman named Amanda Adkins does it all while wearing low cut t-shirts and displaying her ample "specimens".
There are some educational tidbits weaved in and out of the show, including a regular "did you know" type of quiz, but all and all the viewer is not really left with any accurate or realistic view of what prospecting for gemstones is really like.
While being good for a laugh or two these shows have a way of making the gem the industry look silly and many gemologists and professionals are down right embarrassed by it.
The REALITY IS, people want beautiful gemstones for reasons other than the vanity of a few overweight middle aged guys with egos greater than the value of a blue diamond, and the rest of us in the Gemology field or on the business side are trying to serve them with a level of professionalism and class,and without all the drama and tragicomedy thrown in.
Now this isn't to say we don't enjoy television entertainment, and documentaries that show gems and minerals from a scientific, or educational view point...
Let's just create a bigger line between fact and fantasy, and check our egos at the door.
So in closing we would like to ask; Ron, Dan, Bernie, Diane, Vincent, Amanda, and of course the ever intimidating "Fear"...
...do us all a favor, pack away your Indiana Jones fedora, go on a diet, and please leave the buying and selling of precious gemstones and minerals to those of us who are more interested in serving the customers ( those of high net worth, or otherwise).
You had a good run while it lasted.
Time for you to go home.