The Gem Hunter Settles In Waikiki

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - July 18, 2007
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Gary Bowersox, the Gem Hunter
Gary Bowersox, the Gem Hunter

Gary Bowersox says one of the most interesting adventures he has had on the road searching for gems is when he had to put on a burka in Pakistan to cross over into Afghanistan when the Taliban was in power.

“I was wondering if we were going to make it or not,” the owner of the Gem Hunter store and museum in Waikiki says.“My friend and I decided that this would be the only way we would make it. And men are not allowed to talk to other men’s wives, so I posed as my friend’s wife, and I didn’t have to say anything.”

He’s also been near rocket attacks, which he says is not a good situation to be in.

It’s a world of difference for Bowersox now that he has settled into a retail store after 38 years of gem hunting. He has a wide variety of rough rocks, jewelry, table tops, statues and boxes for sale. His clients include mineral collectors, students and giftgivers.

In addition to retail, he also coordinates lectures and events at his store that feature speakers in the gem community.

“I want it to be entertaining and educational,” Bowersox explains.

One of the challenges he admits is letting people know where where his store is located.

“We are working with the trolley and travel agencies,” says Bowersox about getting the word out about the 60,000 gems in the 1,600-square-foot store.

He is also collecting addresses of people to send out a mailing.

Every family that visits the store gets a free one-karat gemstone. His family includes the support of his wife, Myrleen.

When Bowersox, a Michigan native, retired from the U.S. Army as a major, he began looking for a business to get into. The Gem Tree at the International Marketplace in Waikiki was up for sale, so he bought it together with a business partner.

Bowersox also has presented gem shows on the Mainland, but admits “I’m worn out on travel.”

He’s written two books, The Gem Hunter, True Adventures of an American in Afghanistan and Gemstones of Afghanistan.

Bowersox also did a documentary film called The Gem Hunter in Afghanistan that showed lapis and emeralds mines. The film was done by a former BBC director, released in 2002 and screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

The Gem Hunter is located at 2222 Kalakaua Ave. suite 1414. The hours of operation at 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday. For more information, call 792-3332 or log onto or

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