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Don Kogen from "Game of Stones" stars in the Discovery Channel reality docu-series.

With over 20 years of experience in the gemstone and jewelry industry, Don Kogen's lifetime passion for gemstones started when he traveled to Thailand with his father, only to be abandoned on the streets of Thailand at the age of 13.

While still in his teens, Don familiarized himself with every aspect of the local gem industry — from mining and cutting, to trading in the weekend gem markets (watching dealers haggle and learning to speak Thai).

Growing up, Don lived in many countries that feature predominately in the gem industry, including America, East Africa, Israel and India. During his travels he was fortunate to gleam a huge amount of knowledge from seasoned gemstone traders. But it wasn't until he arrived at the regional gem hub of Chanthaburi Thailand in the 1980s that his professional career seriously took off.

Frustrated by the inefficiencies of traditional gem trading, where numerous middlemen can increase the price of a gem, often by figures in excess of 1000% from mine to market, Don believes in developing businesses that give consumers the opportunity, as much as possible, to purchase direct from the primary source.

Making his way in the gem world via direct sales trips abroad and meeting with wholesalers who eventually trusted him enough to purchase from him via mailed catalogues with fax ordering. His vision combined with his passion for gems caught the eye of a group of Asian investors who believed in him and gave him the opportunity to work with them, expanding their business through his vision. A turning point came in 1998, when Don bought a computer, starting online gem sales a month later. Testing e-commerce distribution via eBay, he soon had over one hundred thousand items listed online and Thaigem.com was born. His vision and investor's trust soon reaped rewards; going from three to over 300 employees in only three years, Don built Thaigem.com into an internet giant in a business climate characterized by online failures. At its peak, Thaigem.com was the world's leading online supplier of gemstones, forever proving that it is possible to adapt new technologies to very old industries.

After supplying gemstone jewelry to major established shopping channels, Don saw an opportunity for a jewelry manufacturer to run their own dedicated jewelry home shopping channel. The driving force behind GemsTV, Don stayed with the channel during its meteoric growth and eventual public listing.

Internationally respected and admired, Don has a huge impact on the gemstone industry. As a professional member of the ICA (International Colored Gemstone Association), an organization whose members include the top gemstone miners, cutters and dealers throughout the world, he has represented Thailand at the GILC (Gemstone Industry Laboratory Conference) on several occasions and was formally the ambassador for the CGA (Chanthaburi Gem and Jewelry Traders Association). Apart from numerous trade press articles, Don has also appeared in the international media, including CNBC.

Don left GemsTV after its public listing to dedicate himself to his passion — the thrill of tracking down gemstones from around the globe. Don has been working with the Gem Guys for over 15 years, slowing building and developing the team to what we see now. With its head office in Houston, Texas, Don regularly travels to and from all the Gem Guys bases.






"Game of Stones" (TV show) cast Rare Stone Hunter Chases New Finds in 'Game of Stones' — Premiering Friday, February 28, the new Discovery Channel series follows an extreme gem hunter as he goes to the most dangerous and lawless places on Earth, racing the clock to beat his competitors. Read more...

 
 
 
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