Last night’s episode of “Game of Stones” gave adventure fans more insight into the dangers faced by international extreme gem hunter, Don Kogen in this episode titled, “Himalayan Motherlode.”
As the episode begins in the headquarters in Houston, Texas, when he gets a call from one of his global scouts who tells him about Himalayan beryl, one of the rarest gemstones on earth. Surfacing only a few times a decade, it is a diamond-like gem found in the Himalayan Mountains worked by small pickaxes to find veins. Once found, the miners want cash, and Don rushes to the site with his team because the gem hunters who arrive first, win big.
The book a flight to Jaipur, India that takes 24 hours and 30 minutes from Houston. Don loves Jaipur, with people everywhere, cows walking in the streets, monkeys climbing across electrical wires and gem merchants who migrated from all over Asia to settle there. Millions of dollars worth of gem deals play out on the back streets each year. When Don verifies that his information was rock solid, it was a shame they had to spend a day traveling, because he is sure word has spread to other gem dealers, and he needs to be the first on the site.
They meet in a restaurant where the man arrives. When he brings out the bag of stones, Gavin, the expert assesses the three large uncut stones as exceptional. The man knows exactly where the mine is located and from what they see, it is worth the trip to the mountains. The man tells them there are about 100 kilos of stones at the location or about 220 pounds. If the quality at the mine is equal to these stones, they could make hundreds of thousands of dollars profit. The man tells Don’s friend that if they buy those three stones, he will give them the map and location of the mine.
The man sells them the info and stones for $1,500. The mine is located in the snowy mountains in sub-zero temperatures. However, that will not stop Don and his crew as they will go to the world’s most deadliest places as they play the “Game of Stones.”
To fund the mission, they wire all their money to Jaipur totaling quarter-million dollars. Fear, the security guy handles the money and points out that there are no banks and cash machines inside a mine. When Don’s phone rings, he is told to stop at a hotel in Jaipur. There he spots Tom Cushman, a major player in the gemstone industry who rarely shows up in person, unless he is planning to make a deal. He has outbid Don on a few occasions for gems, which is why they must find out why he is there before traveling to the Himalayas. He could be there for the beryl or another gem deal that Don is not aware of. So the next day, they plan to follow him. When the producer questions why they would follow him, Fear tells him that Cushman has lots of corporate backing, and they are small fish in the big pond of gem dealers. They must get there before he does if they want the beryl. As they try to follow his jeep, the morning traffic is insane. With a camel blocking the road, they jump into a taxi and follow Cushman. When they tell the driver to make a left, he refuses because it is very dangerous, so they proceed down an alley on foot. He went into a shop with his briefcase, so Don goes to the shop right after Cushman left and uses a ploy to get info from the shop owner. He wanted to know if he was looking for the Himalayan Beryl, but the shop owner told him no, it was the Kashmir Sapphire; the Holy Grail of gemstones and although a major player in the gem business, Don has never seen one.
They must now get to the mine, located in Kashmir, a territory between India and Pakistan, 600 miles away that will take 15 hours. This is a dangerous place, where Islamic terrorists thrive as well as drug smugglers who deal in heroin and hashish from Afghanistan. U.S. Government advises all their citizens to avoid this area at all costs. They find a place to rest for the night because the mountains are brutal at night. At daybreak, they hire a local villager who runs supplies back and forth to the mine to guide them. If they hurry, they should make it there and back in one day. The only way across the rushing river is by a flimsy cable system with a bucket. When the pulley stops working halfway across, Gavin has to pull himself the rest of the way. Once on the other side, he attempts to fix the pulley, and the basket falls into the river below. Now the rest of the team has to find a way across the freezing glacier water at a shallower area. They remove their clothes and wade across the freezing river, and put their clothes on when they reach the other side. With night falling, they are very cold, as their day-long trip goes into day two. Fortunately, they find a hut that is easily unlocked, but it is one used by drug smugglers, so far from safe. The next morning, they find the guide has left. They head up the mountain, but the lack of oxygen and freezing cold is hard for them to bear and without the guide, they are lost.
As they search for any sign of life, they finally see smoke coming from an area close by. When they enter the mine, they find there is only one kilo of beryl. Expecting more, they are very disappointed, but the two men know of a Kashmir Sapphire because they saw it last week. Now they must get down to the village to find a man named Komal. They use plastic sheeting as a makeshift sled and slide down the mountain.
At the village, Don gets a cell signal and puts in a call to his friends in Jaipur. Now they must get there because the gem is being sold tomorrow. They have not been invited and not sure if they can bid. When they find men with camels, they take them to the place where the auction will be held, and pay dearly for a round trip.
When they reach the destination, Tom is there along with two other bidders. They will get a chance to look at the stone before the bidding begins, and Gavin confirms its authenticity. As the bidding proceeds, it is between Don and Tom until Don gets is for $202,000. Tom only came equipped with two hundred grand, and Don got the gem, much to his team’s delight on this episode of “Game of Stones.”
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