Gary Bowersox has ridden camels, mules, sheep trucks, and tanks to explore remote mines in eastern Asia in search of gems. He has climbed mountains and watched miners use primitive techniques to blast gems and minerals from the earth.
A gem hunter who has sought gemstones around the world for 47 years, Bowersox will bring his Smithsonian-style show of rough gems and minerals, precision-cut gemstones and designer jewelry to Karen’s Jewelers in Oak Ridge from Thursday through Saturday, October 2-4.
More than 60,000 gems will be on display at the gem show and sale at Karen’s Jewelers, which is at 1120 Oak Ridge Turnpike. The exhibit will be open from noon.-6 p.m. October 2, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. October 3, and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. October 4.
Gem exploration has taken Bowersox this year to Afghanistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and to Germany to have gems carved. He climbed mountains to Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Sang lapis lazuli mines, where miners have worked veins of the rich blue semi-precious stone for thousands of years. He visited the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, where explosions set off with little warning reveal green stains marking emerald-bearing rock.
“It’s an incredible village,” Bowersox said of Sar-e-Sang. “Miners climb the path each day over 3,000 feet to work the lapis lazuli mines.” The blue stone is finished for jewelry, sculptures, and table tops that Bowersox will exhibit.
The exhibit includes ruby, emerald, garnet, aquamarine, tourmaline, jade, black opal, amethyst, citrine, topaz, sapphire, morganite, white quartz, and spinel, as well as Afghan antique jewelry. Items range in cost from $5 to $10,000.
Among unusual finds in the show are the head of Alexander the Great’s horse carved into a 70.45 carat emerald, one of several new emeralds up to 70 carats; a 124 carat kunzite and diamond necklace on lapis beads; and a 51.5 carat ruby dragon pendant with a ruby earring set. His collection includes many new colors of sapphires, including a rare non-treated padparadscha sapphire.
A leading authority on gems of Afghanistan, Bowersox has lectured at the Smithsonian and The Explorers Club, carrying the club’s flag to Afghanistan. He has appeared on CNN, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Fox News, National Public Radio, Voice of America, and many other radio and television programs.
Bowersox has served as a consultant to the government of Afghanistan and for a U.S. Agency for International Development project to revitalize Afghanistan’s gemstone industry. The author of the books, “The Gem Hunter” and “Gemstones of Afghanistan,” Bowersox traveled during multiple conflicts in the region.
He was honored by the Kamehameha, Hawaii, Lions Club with an award for directing humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan through the Lions International eyeglass program in 2009. He has also delivered school supplies to school children in remote mining villages through his local Rotary Foundation.
For more information, call Karen’s Jewelers at (865) 483-6717, and see the web site at www.karensjewelers.com. A video on this year’s Bowersox explorations is at “Gem Show Info and Video” under the “News and Events” tab on the Karen’s Jewelers website.