School of Rocks: The Feds Go to the GIA



For two weeks a year, the GIA campus becomes a magnet for law enforcement from around the world, who take a crash course in Gemology 101. JCK got an exclusive look at this training program—and learned why the government finds it so useful. Mark Maxwell, an instructor of jewelry manufacturing arts at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, Calif., holds up a 14k gold ring for the entire class to see. “You will see just how quickly rings can be melted down into a puddle,” Maxwell says. He pulls out a jeweler’s torch and demonstrates how it’s done before asking a volunteer from the class to hold the torch while guiding him. “Now you can stick a bunch of this gold in your belt or shoes.” About an hour earlier, Maxwell showed the class how to surreptitiously switch a diamond in less than 30 seconds. (He managed 24.) Primers on committing illegal acts are not sta
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