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Cash and Treasures Program on the Travel Channel

Posted by Justin Zzyzx  
Justin Zzyzx December 27, 2006 07:23AM
If you get a chance,

check out the Cash and Treasures program on the travel channel

for lies, lies, lies.

Would it make my field collecting videos better if I held up a cracked agate and proclaimed, "fifty thousand dollars"?

I'll be Tivoing the series and doing a step by step guide to lies lies lies of "Best places to find cash and treasures" on The-Vug coming shortly.

My favorite from the sapphire episode...she takes and sifts a salted bag of rough, pulls out two "largeish" stones, has them heat treated and cut. Then a Gemologist looks at them, says "IF we mounted these two sapphires in 14k gold earring settings and sold them in our retail space (san Francisco, land of skyhigh costs for real estate), they would sell for around $600.00. (he was a VERY honest gemologist!)

Then, she holds up the two stones and proclaimes, $600.00 for these two little stones! WOW!

Of course, let's see. $600.00 targeted sale price, if they were mounted and sold in a high end jewelry gallery. It cost her $25.00 for the bag of salted rough. Then, the cost of heat treatment and cutting. They did a great job cutting them! Bet that would have cost a pretty penny! Then, she didn't even account for the setting, which would be around $40.00. All around, at the very least she would have spent over $100.00 to get the stones and processed. Then, she would have to try and sell the earrings.

Funny how that all got left out of the rational when she held up the two stones and proclaimed them to be worth $600.00.

This show would be good if they left out the fake dollar amounts. But basically, this program skirts the fields of markerting ploys and frauds.

Collecting minerals in the field is a LOT of fun. But people being motivated to find minerals because of an inflated sense of worth...

The last season was full of this inflated worth hype and this season looks like more of the same. I wish they would clean up their act!!!

Fred E. Davis December 27, 2006 12:20PM
But Justin, she's cute... that's gotta be worth something! (:D
Justin Zzyzx January 03, 2007 12:47PM
But you know...the sunstone episode...not too horrible.

It was fun to see Chris Rose on TV too.
Leann Kenny January 05, 2007 10:08PM
I think this is a great show!! I am watching every episode...they do tell you how much she spent on the cutting and mounting.

Becky is great... what a fun job she has.

I am hooked!
Justin Zzyzx January 06, 2007 12:37PM
Hey Leann!

Wow, logged onto MinDat just to post that little piece of fan mail?

Oh and look, it's your first post.

OK, so now that I have your attention.

The episodes that haven't aired yet...
Make sure you tell people FLAT OUT IN BIG BOLD LETTERS when you are at a SALTED location. Salted doesn't mean just straight up non-native stones, it also includes the bags and buckets of "mine tailings" that are not really mine tailings.

Then, on top of that, make sure to state the actual cost of making your material into the final product. I mean, if you are going to flash around the "worth" of the material, you should tell people the cost involved to get to that worth!

Then, nobody gruff like me will have an issue with it. I WANT TO LIKE THIS PROGRAM and for the most part I do. BUT DON'T give people a "get rich quick" mentality. That my friends, is the core of fraud.

Collecting minerals in the field is about the adventure and the fun you have with your friends (hey, you shouldn't go out alone!). When you start throwing dollar signs around, just remember what Mr. Dylan said...
"Money doesn't talk, it swears"
Iwannabelieve January 21, 2007 09:29AM
Are there ANY gemstones of value located in any of these S Appalachian Mtns. mines? or is it all hype and deception for the tourist trades ala Roswell?
Alan Plante January 21, 2007 03:33PM
Hi Iwanna

Yes, there are actual gem-quality stones to be found in some of the old mines of the region - even, I expect, some of the "tourists traps" that salt their gravel piles for the general trade. The thing is, gem grade materials were never particularly plentiful at any of these sites - even during their haydays as operating mines. You would have had to sort through perhaps a tom of stuff - or perhaps even much more - to find anything worth bringing to the faceting machine's wheel. If you either get into a local club or do your own preliminary research and legwork to locate an old abandoned mine that isn't being operated as a tourist trap, you would have to expect to spend day after day working the gravels (or dumps of hard-rock mines) in order to find something worthwhile - and you might go a whole collecting season and never even find a single stone worth faceting. You just plain have to process a lot of stuff - put in a lot of work - in order to finding anything worthwhile.

This simple fact of the sparsity of "good stuff" is why the tourists traps salt their gravels: People aren't going to keep coming back, paying for the privelege, if they don't find things in pretty short order. So in order to get people to come back - and to spread the word to others - they salt the piles, giving the tourists something to find. It's mostly junk, true, but people are actually pretty happy no matter what they are finding: So long as it is colorful and as long as they are finding it, they're happy.

It's just us die-hard rockhounds, who want the "real thing", that are unhappy with all that... :~}


Jesse Fisher January 21, 2007 04:03PM
Despite names like the "Discovery Channel" and the "Learning Channel", tv shows are about entertainment. A lot of people seem to love these "get rich quick" fantasies. Just look at the popularity of lottery tickets with millions to one odds againsting anything but loosing a few bucks. No one would tune into a show about having to work your ass off and take huge financial risks in order to stand a miniscule chance of finding something valuable. Now, if you want to gamble millions on some grandious scheme and then crash and burnin a spectacular enough fashion, then you might qualify for the another major area of televised entertainment - watching other people's disasters!

But then, with the potential for spending a lot of time and money for nothing but a load of grief, perhaps there's an angle for a good "Reality" show here. Take a group of would-be miners, give them each some start-up money (that they should be obliged to repay at some point), and a year or so to find and establish a mining prospect and produce something valualbe. Let's see, first, find and locate a claim with the BLM or negotiate rites with a private land owner, do an environmental survey, get an explosives license (really fun in these paraniod, terrorist-filled days!), find a compressor and an excavator that is within the budget, but won't immediately break down, hire some help that won't be spending most of their time drunk, stones, or hung-over, engage in months of back-breaking work moving rock and soil, and then, if you actually find something, get it cleaned, prepared and brought to market. You then have to pay back your investors and hope there's something left for all the work you've done. I'd watch a show like that, and you know, it would probably have a better chance of paying back an investment than actual mining. Any wannabe tv producers out there?

And yes, there are some valuable gemstones to be found in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, including the only American location for emerald. However, as with most mining, the cost of extraction is usually far greater than the value of what is recovered.

Justin Zzyzx January 23, 2007 10:08AM

That actually sounds like a REALLY cool idea for a show.

Digging in Hiddenite and the surrounding area sucks, it is a very sticky clay material and you need a backhoe, your own money and land and lots and lots of time.
Joseph Polityka February 04, 2007 01:48AM
First of all, I agree with Alan Plante.

I have watched every episode on the Travel Channel,and watched several episodes more than once. I was impressed with the Ogdensburg, New Jersey episode because she took the fluorescent minerals she found back to San Francisco. They were evaluated by the museum curator and were placed in the New Jersey reference collection. She made the statement that the specimens were there for "future generations". This is a positive message that can only have a positive impact on the hobby.

Keep in mind that the program is not intended for geologist/mineralogists or even the experienced rockhound. The general public has a fleeting memory and has to be sold and resold the benfits of a commodity to the point of gross exaggeration. The average collector knows about the salted mines in the South and is not about to pay $125.00 for a bucket of gravel. However, I am for anything that benefits and promotes the hobby to the general public so long as the show does not promote fraudulent practices. If fraud is being committed it is on the part of the gem mine owners,not the show. The mine owners and faceters are the ones who told her the value of the gem material she collected.

How many people are going to tune into the Super Bowl tomorrow just to watch those Coors, Bud and Miller commercials. Do any of you out there think the beer companies are pulling our leg? Or do those ladies really come with a six pack?

Do those carboard pizzas really taste different or are we paying a lot of money for cheap flour, cheap cheese, watery sauce thickend with cornstarch and micro sliced pieces of pepperoni?
Wayne Corwin February 09, 2007 02:01PM
I love the show and would be upset to here Becky or someone was ever hurt.
I'v been collecting rocks and minerals since I was 5 years old and one thing I want to pass along is that SAFETY is always important. I'v collected for 47 years now with very few mishaps. I work at and have help set up mines and quarrys in New England and New York and SAFETY always comes first. If you get hurt.. you can't collect, and thats no fun.
I was watching your show on Aquamarine, and it's full of SAFETY problems that I can see.
1)Doesn't look like STEEL TOE SHOES on Becky.
2)Fingers in your ears don't make good HEARING PROTECTION.
3)Hands over your head is no substitute for a HARD HAT.
4)You should ALWAYS wear EYE PROTECTION when your working with hammers and chissels or even when drilling.
5)On drilling...You should (MUST) wear an approved DUST MASK. It sounded like the mine operator there has SILICOSIS from breathing all that dust.
6)A good Pair of GLOVES when working with sharp rocks and handling Dynamite. The Nitroglycreine in Dynamite can give you a bad headache or even make you sick.
7)Always use tools made for working with rock.. not carpenters tools. I'v seen too many people hurt when they break.
These are just some of the SAFETY TIPS. There are many more. Maybe part of a show should be devoted to SAFETY. It would be nice to see that someone was protected from harm and still can collect with no loss of body parts or worse.

Wayne (I Dig Rocks) Corwin
Alan Plante February 09, 2007 04:48PM
Hey there, Wayne - Nice to see you've finally gotten on-line! :~}

My email address is: alsherxls @ verison . net.

Drop me a line.


Al Plante
William C. van Laer February 16, 2007 04:02PM
To all:
I have been watching this series from the beginning with much of the high expectations as given on this thread. I have very mixed opinions about what is being done here:
First, I like the host & she is cute, but she seems to be obsessed with the idea of "how much MONEY is it worth?!??" Every scrap, piece, and rock gets this inquiry withoput exception. I loved it when hunting for Civil War relics the guy told her in no uncertain terms that it "wasn't about how much MONEY it was worth, but the historical value" or something to that effect. I believe the show DOES exhibit how much fun this can actually be, which to me is far more important than something's value. I also disagree heavily on some of the "apprasials" given to some of these items, especially the value of the cut sunstone which was badly cut to any professional's opinion.

Second, some of the places she's visited have really BAD reputations for being honest, just like the notorious "ruby mines" in Franklin, North Carolina became decades ago. When I collected there in the early sixties, "salting" was not done (at least that I observed). I witnessed many fine NATIVE gems found there!! But in the past 25 years plus, I have repeatedly seen FOREIGN sapphire/corundum rough come from the SAME sapphire mine visited by Becky in Helena, Montana. These people are so dishonest that my shop refuses to recommend any of our client ever visit there. I wish the producers of this show would do a little research before they show the gullible viewers some of these phony operations.

Thirdly, I agree with Wayne wholly that they need to promote better safety; I literally cringed when I saw them handling dynamite with their bare hands. Boy, I can remember the massive headache I got once when I was foolish enough to do that! And they need to emphasize this (and other safety issues) well enough that the general public doesn't end up hospitalized, blind, or even dead from improper or negligent safety practices. I teach a silversmithing class here in my shop and one whole lesson is dedicated to shop safety!!

Finally, I wish this show success: we all would like to see our favorite collecting localities featured on a nationally-televised program!! Ther's lots of fun places to hunt for rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, crystals, and relics! The show that featured bottle-digging instantly brought back memories of digging through soot-black ancient dumps in Huntsville, Alabama, finding old "bitters' bottles, amber Cokes, etc., and coming home literally covered from head to toe with black dirt. My Mom was always thrilled, and the bathtub always suffered. When Becky stuck her head out of the hole and was covered in the same stuff, I had to laugh!
Dave Steiner March 26, 2007 05:56PM
I'm a beginner and collecting Minerals and Gemstones. Have enjoyed the entertainment value of this show but wondered about some of the sites they visit.

My wife and I are going to be in the Asheville, NC area in May and would like to do some of our own digging. Since we are very new at this, I don't know if we're up for digging on our own but I don't want to go to a complete tourist trap. Is there anything in the area that's in between? Ie, somewhere we could get some help and equipment but not somewhere that's going to rip us off. I'd like to be able to find something nice but am not worried about "investment" at all. Facetable would be nice but rough is fine too.


David Von Bargen March 26, 2007 06:02PM
You might try the McRocks forum. The webmaster is from North Carolina and they also have a number of field trip reports on the site.
Dave Steiner March 28, 2007 10:48PM
Thanks for the forum recommendation. I posted a message and got several responses.

DigDug December 05, 2007 06:44AM
I am disgusted with the episode at Hiddenite aka Emerald Hollow! ALL IS SALTED! I live down the road from the place, been there many times. The multiple Emerald finds in the creek is a crock of crap. DOES NOT HAPPEN! You will see me on the show walking the creek in the black boots. They interviewed me...of course they cut that out because I told them EVERYTHING is salted even though you may find some nice material. I explained that this place has been salted since forever and the older materials are buried 1 - 2 ft below the creek bed. For example, to name a few items found in the creek...Savanah River Agate, Sodalite & Amethyst, ...NOT NATIVE to Hiddenite, N.C. and Labradorite & Tiger Eye is not native to U.S.!

Hiddenite is a great place to go to get supplies for your cabochon needs...i.e. a supply run for only $8.00 per person.
Justin Zzyzx December 14, 2007 09:55AM
Oh god...

Has anyone seen the NEW season of this show? They are now only 30 mins long and boy oh boy, while the show POPS more, the crys of "MY GOD TELL ME HOW MUCH THIS IS WORTH!!!" and "OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE WE JUST FOUND THIS ROCK IN THE GROUND AND ARE SELLING IT FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!" Ok, I'm exagerating, however, watch an episode from season three and see if you don't feel like this lady could care less about minerals and is only interested in MONEY.

It is so sad. If they just took the MONEY out of this program it would be the coolest television show ever made. They way they make it about 100% greed makes me want to complain like a bitter old man with nothing better to do.

Now, get of my lawn!
Tim Fisher December 14, 2007 02:54PM
Justin Butt Wrote:
> Oh god...
> Has anyone seen the NEW season of this show? They
> are now only 30 mins long and boy oh boy, while
> the show POPS more, the crys of "MY GOD TELL ME
> exagerating, however, watch an episode from season
> three and see if you don't feel like this lady
> could care less about minerals and is only
> interested in MONEY.
> It is so sad. If they just took the MONEY out of
> this program it would be the coolest television
> show ever made. They way they make it about 100%
> greed makes me want to complain like a bitter old
> man with nothing better to do.
> Now, get of my lawn!

So what? The show is singlehandedly getting thousands of fat, lazy Americans off their couches and into the real world to enjoy the dying hobby of rockhounding. It deserves commendations for that. I have been contacted by the show and from talking to them on the phone I can tell you that if it doesn't involve profit they can't sell the show to the cable network, it's as simple as that. A show strictly about rockhounding, gold panning, etc. DOES NOT SELL ON CABLE and WILL NEVER BE PRODUCED. Sad, but true. I ignore all the blather about the value of what they are finding and actually have enjoyed most of the episodes. I do agree that the salted mines are tourist traps and with a little research they could have hooked up with M.A.G.M.A. and found authentic NC gemstones on their own.

One of the upcoming shows is on petrified wood and was shot in Oregon, some at a friend's ranch. If it gets as many people interested in rockhounding for wood as the sunstone show did for the commercial mines down by Plush, I will be ecstatic. All of our local rock clubs are dying for lack of members and if one person joins each club as a result of this show it will be worth all the deceptions about the "value" of rocks, gemstones, and minerals they find. If any TV program in the past 20 years has generated as much interest in rockhounding as this one, I would love to hear about it. Cash & Treasures, keep 'em coming!
Justin Zzyzx December 28, 2007 10:09AM
Each new episode that comes out makes me die inside.

This new season is just one giant GREED fest.

Greed is not a good starting motivation for quality rockhounds!

This show could be so good. =(
Fred E. Davis December 28, 2007 12:52PM
Mythbusters *could* be the best science show on TV, but it aims more for entertainment than good science. Consequently, it is not the best science show on TV (and would probably lose viewers if it were). The result is an amusing, entertaining, humorous show that I like to watch, but I /don't/ watch for the science content.
Thomas B. January 02, 2008 06:18AM
if one person joins each club as a result of this show it will be worth all the deceptions about the "value" of rocks,

right as long as someone profits off us suckers it's all worth while
thanks for helping me decide about hounding.
Justin Zzyzx January 02, 2008 08:03AM
One of my favorite things about hearing from people when I talk about the fraud and deception used in this show is that the only people who actively defend it are connected to the show one way or another.

WHY do the people on this show keep handling dynamite sticks with their bare hands? Why don't they ever talk about safety? Why don't they just tell people to tie live cobras to their belts while out collecting?

BTW, did anyone catch the news article that hit the other day about the guy who escaped from his truck after he drove off the pier into a lake? He said that he had watched an episode of Mythbusters the other week that showed him who to escape from just this type of peril. So, Fred, while not exactly "Science Perfect", Mythbusters is at least somewhat informative. And it doesn't make my skin crawl like the money grubbing in C&T.

Don't you know you can make more money as a butcher? Don't you waste your time on me.
Mark Rheinberger January 02, 2008 04:34PM
I have not seen this program. But, if the content of the show does not contain any cops, forensic investigators, lawyers, judges or doctor phils or try to sell me pimple remover or religion, it can't be too bad.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2008 05:04PM by Mark Rheinberger.
John Truax January 02, 2008 05:54PM

I do like the show for several reasons I think it is exciting to see new locations and to see places I have already been digging. If you have not seen the show you can watch the episodes here:

Yes the "HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH" thing is kind of sickening and someone needs to explain to the host basic mineral handling rules, like do not hold 2 large priceless emeralds in one hand ... or stack large fine quarts crystals in one hand while franticly robbing a vug for more. They really need to take safety first as they are attempting to teach.

Great show with rough edges, I enjoy it a bunch.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph January 02, 2008 08:32PM
Still haven't got to see any of this show (they don't show it on any of the channels I get here) and no-one seems to have uploaded it to the usual naughty places on the internet!

Henry Barwood January 02, 2008 10:03PM

Count your self lucky that you haven't seen it. The show is overblown, overhyped, over-advertised and mostly horrible! There is nothing but the "treasure hunting" aspect in the show, and many of the things they show are exceedingly dangerous.

One episode, the model/featured "performer" was drilling a pegmatite with no protective gear. Dust blowing all around! Then the miner (jackass!), let her cap, load and tamp the dynamite in the hole. All the time, she's gushing about how neat this was!

This sort of thing was really rampant back in the 1960's when everyone was running out into the desert to get rich with gemstones, gold, Uranium, etc. The only people who made money sold them the equipment they used.

I will be exceptionally surprised if even a single rockhound, much less mineral collector, gets their start from this series (do a survey in 10 years!).

Joseph Polityka January 02, 2008 10:24PM

The points you make about the show are valid. However, you have to keep in mind who comprises their general audience. This show is not intended for those of us who are serious collectors, scientists or serious rockhounds. The show is intended to stimulate the general public to get out and spend some money traveling. It is the Travel Channel, afterall.

Keep in mind that the baby boomers are now retiring. They will have plenty of free time on their hands and lots of money to spend. Before I retired, I worked in the Marketing Department of a large insurance company. OUr goal was to get employers to buy health, life and disability insurance for their employees. Our advertising was directed toward the employers demographic.

In marketing, using commercials as an example, your advertising is directed toward your target group. How about all those "hooters" in the beer commercials? Or those beautiful women in the makeup commercials?

I like the show and I think it will benefit the hobby. Keep in mind that mineral museums might stay open if the general public gets interested in minerals and gems.

However, I did take exception to the free ride given to mine owners when they were allowed to value their specimens. How about her digging at Pala for tourmaline and then pulling out a flawless four inch crystal from the pocket? Yeah, right!
Jeremy Zolan January 02, 2008 11:15PM
My mother was watching the program last night, and I decided to watch it with her. On this particular episode, they visited the Royston Turquoise Mine. The hostess claimed that Turquoise is composed of Copper, Iron, and Aluminum Sulfate. I'm just curious where they got this information from (Turquoise is actually a phosphate)? The hostess also found a huge piece of Turquoise which was obviously planted there for her to pick up and turn into jewelery, which upset me because as a specimen, it would be out of this world. Of course, they had to ask EVERYONE how much it was worth. On another episode, someone on the show proclaimed that Herkimer Diamonds "were the hardest type of crystal in the world". I think the concept of the show is good, especially since it captures the interest of people who seemingly wouldn't care, but the fact that there is an excessive amount of scientific inaccuracy and the tendency of the program to put a monetary value on everything they find is inexcusable and pretty much ruins the show. I will be honest- if I owned a fee-site as a profession, I would probably want a show like C&T to visit, I think it's good in respect to giving a lot of places the publicity and continued interest they need to keep themselves open.
Justin Zzyzx January 03, 2008 01:18AM

Hey Jeremy, I was hoping that someone would point out that the new episodes are PLANTED like crazy.

I Tivo'ed that turqouise episode, so I kept rewinding and watching that obvious plant. It was so badly done. C&T people lurking here should be aware that your planted scenes are really poorly done. Just ask me for help. I'll be more than glad to show you all of your failures.

Maybe they could benifit from...oh I don't know...having someone that actually knows about minerals helping them out in the scripting/filming/etc.

I know LOTS of PRETTY girls who know more about minerals than this new host can even imagaine. I know TONS of people who would make GREAT writers and consultants on this show, but as I watch the credits, I don't know any of those people.

At least the past two seasons were free from SALTED FINDS! (they still had SALTED Locations, but not salted finds...)
Wayne Gilmore January 03, 2008 02:51AM
The emerald one seems to be completely inaccurate, how many places in North America have emeralds been found? I know of 3 different localities in the states, and I'm sure there are more.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2008 02:56AM by Wayne Gilmore.
Dana Morong January 05, 2008 05:51PM
Someone's post said "if one person joins each club as a result of this show it will be worth all the deceptions about the "value" of rocks.." but I think it was said sarcastically, if one reads the tone and words; a good point if taken in the right way. I recall an old collector, now deceased, whom I used to visit, and when I had lived in that area (in Maine) used to collect a lot with him. He told me that collecting was great in the old days, but after that famous strike of tourmaline at Newry, Maine (back in the early 1970s) that the news attracted a lot of get-rich-quickers, and now many of the best mines and locations are off-limits to collectors as they are leased by guys who think they are going to make a profit, despite the costs and work involved. He thought that it ruined the hobby for a lot of decent people, while the others infiltrated the clubs and drove them out.
I have talked with a few miners, better ones I think, and it seems to me that they hardly crack a book to learn something about what's in the deposit, they just want the stuff to sell. One of these guys at a show had a flat of tiny crystals he didn't know what they were, I bought a couple as they looked like phenakite to me. I tried telling him something about symmetry, that it couldn't be apatite as it was trigonal (terminations showed that), not hexagonal, and besides phenakite scratches glass while apatite doesn't. Then he thought that, just because it scratches glass, it might be topaz, even though that has a completely different crystal system! His boss stopped the sale of the crystals when he learned it wasn't apatite.
Another guy, who has a self-expressed "25 years of experience in pegmatite mining" once told me that my crystal of albite (a micro one that resembles the 'zygadite' habit) could not be 'zygadite' unless I had two specimens of it. I don't know where he got that from. This guy later claimed that the new Pegmatology book was the first book published on pegmatites. When I wrote him telling him there were at least 2 earlier books (one pub. by Economic Geology in 1949, the other a MAC Short Course Handbook in 1982), he then proceeded to downgrade them, even though they are included in the bibliography of the Pegmatology book.
A friend used to collect, and he also liked to learn about, minerals. He got into a club, tried to do the right thing with the landowners, had a lot of trouble with the club, and had to quit. Then he was into mining with the miners, but they weren't interested in using the opportunity (along with a lot of very hard work that he was doing) to learn anything, and most of them dissed him off; I think they didn't like anyone more intelligent. He is now out of mineral collecting, which is sad as you could hardly find a more honest and decent guy. Even those in the local club have seemed to diss him, which surprised me until a club member (and officer) acted rudely to me every time he saw me (I couldn't figure this out the first time as I had never done him any injury or insult of any kind). I knew he might be at a nearby mineral show, but went anyway, and though he dissed me I just ignored him.
Those who love to watch sensationalism on TV might not be so adept at reading books, thinking, and learning. I think publicity just attracts the wrong crowd.
stone January 06, 2008 09:54AM
that part at the Royston mine where she snagged that turquoise from under that rock without ever looking was amazing!!! I want to go digging with her!!! I believe Chris rose and crew should have the reality show!!!
David Von Bargen January 06, 2008 04:04PM
Yes, I would expect you would have much better luck with a film crew along.
Justin Zzyzx January 12, 2008 07:56AM

Did anyone catch the Petrified Wood episode?


They even jump out of the way when it falls in on them! OMG!
This is how you die. Die from being crushed by several hundred pounds of dirt. Or a log. A log of wood.

This show is amazing. Amazingly bad. To quote a really smart guy...
"They might as well tell you to tie cobras to your belt", oh hold on, that was me that said that. Well, it is true. They never give safety tips and they show you how to kill yourself. If they ever show an episode where they litter on screen I'm going to hunt them down.

Oh, it's not a good idea to let your 6 year old operate the track hoe. I grew up on a farm and while that is cute an all...geesh.

I shook my head the whole time.

Did they replace the host with a girl with bigger boobs because the previous ones were not getting them into the good salted locations? My wife can do a complete stand up act on this lone fact.
Wayne Corwin January 12, 2008 11:55AM
They only replaced Becky because she got pregnant.
Andi1900 January 12, 2008 12:13PM
Can anybody let me know where a can download the episode "petrified wood" from 2008 Jannuary?
Fred E. Davis January 12, 2008 02:05PM
Yes, the petrified wood episode went *way* beyond entertaining and into the realm of scary. When they were poking at the wall of that deep trench, I had to watch between my fingers, hands over my eyes. YIKES! Where's the safety consultant for this show? Are the producers that willing to lose their host on camera?

Another episode about fossils showed kids whacking away at shale: a) with no eye protection, b) using claw hammers, and c) using the *claw* end of the hammer. OMG!
David Von Bargen January 12, 2008 03:09PM
They do appear to shoot the show on a fairly tight schedule. The dive for Lake Superior agates was done in some pretty rough weather. Depending on the host's contract, a personal injury lawyer will probably have a pretty easy time proving negligence.
William C. van Laer January 12, 2008 04:36PM
Here's to another great MinDat Thread!! Thanks, Justin, especially for the "discreet" Frank Zappa reference ("...don't waste your time on me!") I also cringe almost every time when this show is on, especially for all the fraud that's perpetuated. I am of the belief that not a single piece either host has found was real, all have been staged or manipulated, with the possible exception of the nice pocket of quartz crystals from the Ace of Diamonds mine in New York. The aquamarine Becky supposedly found didn't resemble the material we saw them dig after the blast; it was 100 times better! The turquois that came from under a rock was so poorly staged it was obviously a plant. I have never seen a decent rough sapphire of ANY size recovered by a digger at the Spokane Mine in 30 years, so I know that the stone she got was a plant/gift or whatever. Those guys screen everything before they let you have a whack at it. And their obsession with VALUE is beyond belief!! I don't care if it sells TV or the show or whatever, it's just plain disgusting. What about the value of FUN for family, young people, etc.?
And if they just would at least do a little research! Some one earlier noted the statement made at Herkimer about quartz being "the hardest crystal known" ought to get some producer fired at least! Then another episode made the blanket statement that Hiddenite was the ONLY place in North America where emeralds were found!! What about the Turner Farm and Little Switzerland (Big Crabtree Mine), North Carolina emerald localities? What about the occurrence in Superior, Montana? The new find in Canada? And when they went to Alaska to hunt for gold... they claimed that "gold was the MOST valuable metal known" or some such dreck....what about platinum, iridium, and rhodium you idiots? How ignorant can they get? Do the producers have less than a high school education? Because that's how it appears to us. Some one above suggested that more educated people serve as advisors on this show,and I agree. It couldn't get any worse, and it's a GREAT disservice to the mineral collecting hobby!!
Douglas Merson January 12, 2008 05:05PM

I think it,s more a case of the producers thinking that the rest of us have never seen the inside of a school or any other form of education. These days, this seems to apply to more than just this program.

Bob Brown January 12, 2008 05:48PM
Tim Fisher,

In your post you made reference to M. A. G. M. A. as a source for locating authentic NC gemstones. I have tried an internet search for this with no luck. Could you elaborate a little more? This is all new to me and I would like to avoid wasting time in salted areas. I live in Florida so our mineral resources are pretty limited here. I can be reached at

Thank you for your time.
David Von Bargen January 12, 2008 06:20PM
The producers probably should hire those guys from the tourmaline mine. They did a pretty good job of salting the finds and making them look real.
Rocky Barney January 12, 2008 06:25PM
This is the type of hype that gets everyone in trouble in the end...Case in point: My family has always been in the Rock/fossil business, (for over 60 years). In the late 80's and early 1990's, I was making and ok, (not great), living from dinosaur fossils. Then came Sue and the hype that the media put with her....of course, everyone came out believing that all dinosaur fossils were worth a gazillion dollars, and thats why us "shady characters" collected them. As we all know, sh%$* rolls down hill, and I was at the bottom. I had collected parts of many dinosaurs over the years, and it so happened that I had sold to a fossil broker parts of an Allosaurus Fragilis (Jurassic meat eater), that he concocted and made into a complete skeleton..(after adding numerous casted missing parts) to fill it in. I had previously had many dealing with the great folks at the Black Hills Institute, and were on thier records that were confiscated by the gov. Hence, the investigation make a long, long, long, (8 years), story short, because of Media Hype, it was alleged that said Allosaurus was worth millions, and irreplaceable as a scientific object! (side note..I, on many occasions had try to show the powers that be dino skeletons in the ground and was met with disinterest as they seem to be more interested in what is overseas)...After paying my "debt" to society, the sites that I have shown them are still left untouched and undoubtedly forgotten.

These shows are there for one reason...Sensationalism, nothing else! Facts don't sell unless they are twisted one way or the other..bordering on Fantasy! Trouble is that when all of the hype is gone, the public that has been caught up with dollar signs in thier eyes will have totally different effect on the mineral community. The gov. will get more involved, sites will be made off limits because of "scientific value", (they use this umbrella when nothing else seems to stir up the public in general), and in the end, the Mineral collectors will be deemed a Black Market society, much as the Archaeological crowd, the Paleontology crowd, and so on before....

So Sorry for all of the Rambling...
Rocky Barney
JBeckert January 12, 2008 06:37PM
Bob Brown, try thats their homepage.
bob brown January 12, 2008 09:51PM
I tried and all I get is "Error: Can't find website"
David Von Bargen January 12, 2008 10:07PM
Jbeckert January 12, 2008 10:21PM
Justin Zzyzx January 13, 2008 04:02AM
HOLD up a second.

Tight scheduals be DAMNED! Ask anyone who had the fortune/misfortune of being in one of MY films this summer, we hit FOUR locations EACH DAY and most of the time I didn't even know where I was going, just the fact that there were minerals to be found in that district. I drove to Bancroft Ontario, spent 3 days there and filmed an entire video of the district. Plus, my videos have a disclaimer that reads..."Don't tresspass, ask permission, don't litter, pick up litter even if it isn't yours, fill in your holes, don't be an idiot, don't dig over your head, be careful, tell people where you are going, take a friend or two, make sure you can come home alive. Don't even THINK about reselling rocks you just found and leave some for the next collector. If you don't agree to this, remove the DVD and use it for a drink coaster."

So, C&T producers, take a look, follow those rules...oh wait, that would be a pretty boring show, wouldn't it. I don't think MY collecting videos are that boring...well, then again I do have the attention span of a large sized gnat, as opposed to the normal sized gnat.

Anyway, all mean justin sarcasm aside, I hope nobody from this show gets hurt. That would be the WORST THING IN THE WORLD for our hobby, and the person involved!
Jenna Mast January 13, 2008 08:39AM
I've seen this show once so can't say one thing or another about it really, but those of you who are dissatisfied with the show might be interested in writing in and offering consultation services.
Justin Zzyzx January 13, 2008 01:04PM
Hi Jenna,

I wrote to them close to 10 times over the last two years. Guess how many responses I've gotten?

Less than the amount of hosts the show has had. Two less.

So, they don't care. At all.

Not even the slightest.

Isn't that comforting?

Post Script...
I wasn't even my normal smart mouthed self either...I was really nice!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2008 01:10PM by Justin Butt.
brad newport January 16, 2008 01:44AM
My name is Brad Newport. I was the second part of the petrified wood episode. I can tell everyone my part of the episode was real. Iwas the one who ate the worm.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2008 10:24AM by Jolyon Ralph.
Henry Barwood January 16, 2008 02:57AM
P.T. Barnum said it best:

You'll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the public
(or something roughly similar to that).

Henry Barwood
Justin Zzyzx January 16, 2008 05:27AM

I don't think anyone questioned the authenticity of the Petrified Wood episode. What concerned us is that one big no no was put into action, filmed and then PUT ON NATIONAL TV as if it was a GOOD THNG TO DO. I'm sure that you know better than to dig over your head, but in the part before they get to your ranch they dig into a dirt and rock filled wall, over the top of their heads, even having to dodge falling rocks and dirt because of this. It might seem cute to someone who doesn't know better, but as most any rockhound worth their salt knows, you don't dig overhead. It only takes a small falling rock to crack you on the head and make the rest of your life the least fun in the world. Or, getting covered up by dirt, might sound like nothing, but what happens is the force of the dirt falling on top of you pushes the air out of your lungs and you breath back in dirt, which doesn't look nearly as heavy as it actually is. Might sound like a long shot, yet I can think of one person who is dead because of just this very scenerio, out on a field trip and without the common sense to not follow this rule.

Your ranch looks like fun though. I didn't see any overhead digging there!
Don Saathoff January 16, 2008 05:41AM
Steve Voynick(sp)...."you can kiss the face, you can tickle the ribs, but never scratch the back"....also, "the mine can make you dead, the company (read stupidity) can kill you"
brad newport January 16, 2008 04:20PM
Justin I couldnt agree with you more. Safety has to be practiced especially on tv. We dont want people going and doing stupid stuff. Like digging over your head,in a trench that looks like you could be buried alive in.I dont know what the expert was thinking.But I can tell you we practice safety at the holleywood Ranch.My son is young but he is very safe when it comes to machinery.I really liked the film crew when they came to my house. But if they are in such a rush that they cannot practice saftey. They should make the show an hour instead of a half.
Ray Ladbury January 16, 2008 05:17PM
Henry Barwood,

Actually, your quote most closely resembles that of Elsa Maxwell:

"No one ever went broke in Hollywood underestimating the intelligence of the public."

And H. L. Mencken said something similar:
"No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

The American people have their circuses. Now if they could only afford bread.
Joseph Polityka January 16, 2008 07:48PM
The last part of my career was spent in sales/marketing for a large corporation. In our business we used technical magazines to advertise our products.

On television, loud voices and sensationalism prevail. Keep in mind America has become a country of couch potatoes who need to be awakened from their TV induced slumber and then, to get their attention, need to be screamed at and entertained by a twenty something who knows little about the topic.

Recently, I saw a program called the "Top 25 Places to See". Every commentator who appeared on screen was a twenty something who could never have travelled to all the locations featured. I found it to be quite annoying, Many of these programs are produced by independent companies who are not held accountable for accuracy.

On "Cash and Treasures", which I found entertaining and informative, I was shocked when she got into the bucket of the front end loader and was lowered into the pit. Cable TV is loaded with stunts like hers and seems to be directed toward people who need a "rush".

Either way, most of what we see on TV is what it is: edited and blown out of proportion.

I don't lose sleep over something I can not change or control. I simply turn off the TV and look at my minerals or browse Mindat and the web.
Wayne Gilmore January 16, 2008 08:08PM
Justin did you see her sitting in the the trackhoe bucket, My keen sence of smell tell me someone gona get hit by a nice fine. As my MESA and DMME training says, its not a man lift.
Dessa January 21, 2008 03:12PM
well i oops I thought we were being imformed, My g daughter and i are new to this, we live in Iowa so not much here ive heard of except keokuk geodes. Is the upper mich copper mine for real? trying to find a place to take her.just to find neat rocks , we dont care of excellence just some neat rocks to collect.
David Von Bargen January 21, 2008 03:21PM
Yes, at the michigan copper mine, you can find copper that is from that mine. For a more concentrated experience:
wallace May 16, 2008 10:10PM
Watch out for Carolina Emerald mine off Hwy 221 in North Carolina. I payed them $78.00 for 3 days to camp and dredge. I had called and the price was $10.00 a night to camp and $11.00 a day to dredge. Got there and the price was $12.00 for each. I had to head to the house after 1 day of dredging and 2 nights of camping. The owner was gone. I told the caretaker it was going to rain so I needed to head home. After getting home,I called and told the owners wife I needed a refund for the unused time at the camp, she told me to call back at 4:30. I now keep getting an anwsering mach. 2 weeks now. 100 miles to drive back, he knows I would not drive that far for $36.00. The boy that owns this place is a rippoff. Just beware of this part of North Carolina. I was told that the people there will ripp you in a second , at all the mining places in the area.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 17, 2008 12:35AM
That sounds a little harsh Wallace, if you paid in advance for time to camp and dredge and decided to go home half way through, why do you think it's their obligation to refund you for that?

Sounds like it was a real cheap deal anyway - perhaps next time take more notice of the weather reports before you head out. Or pay one day at a time.

Justin Zzyzx May 17, 2008 04:46AM

Those stupid NC places are just salted junk for the most part. North Carolina "gem mines" are tourist traps.

Wallace, keep on field collecting!, but maybe get some of those North Carolina field guides for a better experience. Emeralds and Hiddenites are for the owners and those with backhoes!

I've found a new inner tranquility now that I don't subject myself to watching this god forsaken program anymore. Serenity Now!
Brian Gray May 26, 2008 11:57PM
I have seen several of the shows. The "How much is this worth?" grates on every #@&% nerve in my body. She needs to just do the show and keep the economics out of it. On the other hand, she has probably added thousands to our hobby. After all, how many people want to go out and get filty, hot, and tired without some payoff? Not may would try more than once. I think that most of the people that watch this show will try a pay for a pail of dirt on vaction with their kids in a safe environment salted or not, not stuff explosives in a hole and blow the crap out of a mountain side. There should be a disclaimer stating that results or searching is highly varied and that segments of the show have been staged to show a best results outcome. But alas that will surely never happen.

What I really want to know is WHERE THE HELL IS OSHA WHEN YOU NEED THEM? I hope that the OSHA people have been watching this show. Next time I go for my 40 Hr. OSHA refresher I hope that I hear that someone from this governmental organization has contacted this show and most of the places she/it has been or will visit in the future.

The no safety factor on these shows will do more damage to the hobby her.

Devine Design July 02, 2008 01:04AM
I love the show also, I watch every show and even have my boyfriend tape them for me. I agree. GREAT SHOW!
sqwa June 01, 2009 03:16AM
To Justin Zzyzx,

Stop watching the show if it bothers you so much! No one is making you watch this show. It's just entertainment. Quit your bitchin and watch something else.

Jolyon & Katya Ralph June 01, 2009 09:36AM
To Sqwa

Stop reading the thread if it bothers you so much! No one is making you read this thead, it's just Justin being Justin. Quit your bitchin and read something else.

Peter Lyckberg June 01, 2009 11:40AM
Just the name including the word "cash" gives a strong hint that it is aimed to people only seeing dollar signs in everything. There simply are people who do nor have a feeling for quality, history, scintific interest ..... but whose neural connections are so few that only some value in currencey can draw thei interest.

Hos much is a kiss worth from your beloved one when you wake up. one dollar, 25 cent, 50 dollar......
How much is it worth to feel the wind in your hair, the sunrays warming you, hear the bird sing......

To people with good connections to their own sences and heart, the most precious in life has no price and is way to precious to evaluate in currency. How much would you sell your mother for, your child.

We all know, that sadly enough there are such people selling anything, or anyone for money.......and sadly it always will be as long as we allow this primitive behaviour.

I just spent ten days in mines in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Most mines are now closed down since very sadly the environmental people in Brazil seem not to haver a clue about the difference between pegmatite gem mines, which has nothing to do with the harm the environment from sulphide deposits, heap leaching with cyanid for gold etc. How can that be.

How much are some small geologically interesting samples worth.
Nothing in dollars but with the knowledge of exactly where they came from in a vein, some analyses and plenty of work they have some scinentific value.

For anyone with some insight into the mineral specimen mining business, it can only be done by extremely interested and motivated people, who are interested in the science, not in the money. As Jesse pointed out, a lot of invested time and knowledge, besides plenty of money for equipment, liceses etc, will give you plenty of fun, a lot of hard work, and MAYBE your expenses back, VERY MAYBE, and that is NOT counting your time.
Adam Kelly June 02, 2009 06:02PM
Amen Peter, well said.
plumgold June 09, 2009 02:07PM
I live in Franklin NC and have worked at the 2 biggest "ruby" mines one here and one in Cherokee.I was the jeweler at one and sales at the other.As jeweler I sat in the back room with a safe full of cut gemstones(from Brazil) and traded them out for the "native"(also form Brazil) rough and set them.It took 10 minutes.The mine in Cherokee gave a turn around time of 2 hours.They finally changed that to 24 hours because it was getting harder and harder to convince them we could cut 300 gems in 2 hours. The hardest part of sales was looking the customers in the face and telling them"Yes these are all local gems and yes we cut your stones", but we all have to make a living and the pay was great.Cash and Treasures has doubled the business in the past 2 years.Just about everyone threw the doors said"We saw this on tv and just had to try it."I will say that the finished product was far superior, and less expensive than anything they could have bought in the Jewelry srores. Who's to say?
Ian Merkel June 09, 2009 03:36PM
Nice to hear Ruby person from NC!
Adam Kelly June 10, 2009 08:20PM
Plumgold, thanks for speaking the truth now, but how many times did you lie to someones face?

#1 "Who's to say?"
I guess I'm one to say, lying to a person is wrong, and for profit makes it worse.

#2 "we all have to make a living and the pay was great"
Sounds more like you were making a killing, than a living.

I make quality, custom jewelery at an affordable price.
I take pride in my work, and reputation.
You can twist it any way you like, It's dishonest.

Adam Kelly
Tim Jokela Jr June 11, 2009 07:06PM
Plumgold, that is an amazing admission.

Frankly, I think people like you should be put in jail.

The never-ending swindling of gullible people by the gem trade is a constant source of puzzlement. I do not get why companies like the shopping channel and the fake gem mining tourist traps are not investigated, charged, and convicted of fraud.

If I sell you a Mercedes that is actually a Chevy, that's a crime. I sell you lab-grown or dyed quartz as a genuine gem, with a made-up name, for a massive markup, and that's perfectly kosher. Puzzling indeed.

If the public had the slightest clue as to how badly they're getting ripped off by the gem trade they'd rend you limb from limb.

Nice business, hope you enjoyed your profits. If your conscience ever gets to you, you should add up how much you made and donate it to a good charity.
Alfredo Petrov June 12, 2009 01:24AM
I totally agree with Tim - It is criminal fraud, just like the fellow who was passing off India diamonds as being from Arkansas.
At least his use of a pseudonym, "Plumgold", rather than his real name, might indicate a sense of guilt, so a little step in the right direction.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph June 12, 2009 09:35AM
Ok, I think Alfredo's comment was a little unfair.

To compare someone who has come voluntarily here without prompting to help expose the fraud they were involved with previously is very, very, different to what happened with the diamond fraud guy - who simply got caught and still denied everything.

Plumgold was certainly involved in a nasty fraud but the fact that he's here now exposing how it works has to be a point in his favour.

Alfredo Petrov June 12, 2009 06:27PM
I agree, Jolyon. He's a brave fellow. But his final comment, "Who's to say?", indicates some lingering moral ambiguity about whether he was actually committing a fraud or a "public service".
Brian Thurston June 12, 2009 09:09PM
It's sad to hear how much the Cowee Valley ruby mines have changed since I was a kid in the 60's and dragged my family there on vacation. One could dig the gravel out of the walls of trenches cut in the undisturbed alluvium, and to get the few decent stones we found cut, we took them to the Ruby City shop in Franklin and they ground them to cabochons (too included to look good faceted), mailed to us a few weeks later. I still have my cut ruby. I find the current practice of switching out cut for rough gemstones (undisclosed), as described by plumgold, particularly appalling.

Remembering how much I loved my childhood experience, I took my family to a sapphire mine in the Helena area last summer. The one we went to required us to buy a bag of 'concentrate' but then we could drive up to an actual dig site on the hill and mine our own gravel for a nominal fee. A year later we still haven't bothered doing anything with the concentrate, but we did mine two 5 gal buckets of sieved gravel and found a number of light blue sapphires when we washed the material there. I think most people are happy with just going through the concentrate (and many of them probably wouldn't care even if it was spiked with foreign material, as long as they were told); but for me it was all about the 'finding it myself' experience. I wonder if anybody in NC still honestly provides that experience. Maybe plumgold can let us know.
Rock Currier June 13, 2009 11:28AM
This kind of thing will always be with us because people want to believe that is possible to get something for nothing. They want to believe in the gods and in little green men and flying saucers. The want to believe in psychic powers and snake oil and the tooth fairy. Dreams are always preferable to reality and it has always been thus. The above scam does seem a little blatant however and I think that the person(s) who run those places had better be careful because it wouldn't take much for them to prosecuted for fraud and end up in jail. All it would take is a few complaints to the FTC and a local or not so local prosecutor to take an interest in the case and all those operations would probably be shut down. But when someone is making a lot of money doing something like that, ethics gets put on the back burner. Compared however the the great frauds perpetrated on Wall street recently it seems hardly worth trying to chase such minor villains especially when you consider how many people they suck into the hobby who will hopefully educate themselves to the point where they can see through such scams.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Franklin 4 April 30, 2012 12:55AM
I dont know how many of you have actualy gotten or worked material from the mines on this series but I have form many of these sites and if you havent then you shouldnt be blabbering about how fake, "salted" or set up it is. I have quite a beautiful and valuable collection of gems from the material from these mines. Especially saphires from Montana and have never been dissapointed with the material I have recieved from any of the mines there. If everything she worked was "salted" then every bit of material I have worked was super "salted" and I dont have a TV show.
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