Billions of dollars in precious stones are unearthed each year, but the rarest never make it to the open market. That's where Don Kogen, America's most extreme gem hunter, comes in. Kogen is CEO of Gem Guys, Inc., and a legend in the business. He specializes in rare stones from the most dangerous and lawless places on earth, racing the clock to be the first to each new find, always staying one step ahead of the competition.
"Logistics." Following in the footsteps of her family with a passion for science, Kat studied Biology and Psychology, and holds a Masters degree in Education.
Kat has traveled the world extensively in America, Canada, Australia and Thailand. While in Bangkok, Kat's fascination with jewelry design developed. This interest led to meeting and befriending gem hunter Don Kogen. Kat joined Don's team in 2013, taking on the role of logistics and designer at the U.S. headquarters in Houston.
Don's drive to acquire the most exotic, rare and unique gemstones in the world ensure that no two days at work are the same for Kat. How does she manage four strong male characters? She explains: "I'm a girl that likes to hang out with the boys. I can handle it. I grew up with brothers. It just feels natural. Being with them, it's like family."
"For the boys, what they do is like an addiction. They need it. They feed off of it. They hear about a contact, they hear about a find, and they're ready to go. It doesn't matter where they are. They could be having a birthday dinner with their family. Um, they could be on a trip, they could be on a honeymoon, and they would be on a plane ready to go no matter what. It just doesn't matter to them. It drives them, it feeds them, it's definitely an addiction for these guys."
Kat doesn't usually go on these trips. While she understands what drives Don and the team, she worries while they are away. "I think one of my greatest fears is that one day they're going to meet the wrong contact or they're going to make a judgment call in a situation and it doesn't play out how they expected. They've always been safe, but I have this – I have this feeling that one day it's just not going to be okay."
When the team returns from a trip abroad and drop a rare, precious stone into the palm of her hand, Kat's design work begins. As a jewelry designer, Kat takes her inspiration from literature, music, art and her eclectic global background, all of which is reflected in her designs; every piece embodies the culture and environments she has experienced. "I believe the jewelry we wear reflects the passion we feel inside us, our identity and desire to be pulled in a specific direction."
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