Gem dealer Ron LeBlanc is a rolling stone, a man in constant motion searching for precious rocks. As the co-host of GEM HUNT, a new show airing this month on Travel Channel, he demonstrates his love for jewels — and his dislike for sitting still — by leading viewers on excursions around the world. His globe-trotting ways lead him to Colombia for emeralds, Cambodia for zircon, Vietnam for star rubies, Sri Lanka for moonstones and Thailand for every jewel under the sun. “I can’t get enough of Bangkok,” LeBlanc says. “The food is great, the people are friendly and any gem you can imagine makes its way through the city.” With his eye for a deal and his taste for adventure, LeBlanc gravitates toward exotic locales, from the mines of Madagascar to the bustling markets of Mozambique. The one gem he doesn’t do, though, is diamonds. “At that point, you’re going up against the big boys,” LeBlanc explains. “We’re just not going to compete with De Beers.” But he and his traveling sidekicks, jewelry expert Diane Robinson and geologist Bernie Gaboury, leave few other stones unturned.
If inspiration strikes while watching the show and you decide to venture out in search of your own stone, LeBlanc cautions that buying gems is “buyer beware.” Despite decades of experience, he still gets duped by counterfeits. “They’re so sophisticated these days,” LeBlanc says. “You can be deep down in a mine in the middle of nowhere, and someone will offer you a fake.” Before settling on a stone, he suggests consumers consult with a gem expert. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Above all, though, LeBlanc says, enjoy the experience. “Embrace the newness of it all, the chance to go somewhere different and engage with locals.” Oh, and don’t be afraid to haggle. “Haggling is the oldest profession in the world,” he says. “And I can assure you, it’s alive and well.” Gem Hunt premieres at 10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 15.