Gems

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Episode 1 of 5

Duration: 1 hour

Six young British consumers swap their luxury lives for the simple mud huts and shanty towns of Africa and Asia to work alongside the people who mine, manufacture, process and recycle luxury goods.

In Britain today, what were once luxuries are fast becoming everyday items. From electrical gadgets to leather handbags and shoes, as more and more is consumed, products are increasingly disposable. Would consumers care more if they knew the human cost of making luxuries?

The Brits head to the isolated mining town of Ilakaka in Madagascar to discover where the gems and jewellery sold on the British high street come from. In the vast open-pit mines they join hundreds of workers in chain gangs digging for one of the most sought-after gems in the world - sapphires. When the back-breaking work becomes too much for James, Alexandria and Lucy they're shocked to discover the alternative - a makeshift 50-foot-deep mine shaft accessed by rope and pulley.

Soon it's not just the extreme working conditions and hand-to-mouth existence of the locals that shock the Brits, but the value of the rough stones compared to the expensive shiny jewellery for sale in Western shops. Will they have the same love for luxuries again?

More episodes

See all episodes from Blood, Sweat and Luxuries
  • Photo: Oscar with local at the sapphire mine, Madagascar

    Photo: Oscar with local at the sapphire mine, Madagascar

    Madagascar is the forth-largest island in the world and is rich in rough precious gems such as rubies and sapphires.

  • Photo: George at the sapphire mine, Madagascar

    Photo: George at the sapphire mine, Madagascar

    Swapping their luxury lives for mud huts and shanty towns, six Brits see first hand the real cost of items we take for granted.

  • Photo: Lucy with local children, Madagascar

    Photo: Lucy with local children, Madagascar

    The Brits are shocked to discover the value of the rough stones compared to the retail price of the polished gems in the UK.

  • BBC Three blog

    BBC Three blog

    Head over to the BBC Three blog and discuss the human costs behind everyday luxuries.

    BBC Three blog: What are the human costs of our luxuries?

Credits

Director
James Christie-Miller
Producer
James Christie-Miller
Executive Producer
Mark Rubens
Executive Producer
Tim Quicke

Broadcasts

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