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'Pawn Stars': Man's fake 'amber rock' ends up costing him money

On "Pawn Stars," a man brought in a 50-million-year-old amber rock with a spider in it ... or so he thought.

Madison was under the impression he had a piece of Baltic amber that was between 40 and 50 million years old with a tarantula trapped inside that he could get up to $50,000 for.

He was hopeful because he got the rock tested at Berkley and had paperwork saying that the material appeared to be Baltic amber. Rick Harrison said the test wasn't definitive, and that he needed to have the rock tested at the GIA, or the Gemological Institute of America to know for sure.

Madison paid $200 to get it tested, and it turns out ... it's plastic. Rick Harrison had to break the bad news, telling Madison that 'It's worth negative $200.'


Madison got the rock when he was just 10 years old, so he was pretty stunned. Harrison said the rock was likely made of Bakelite, which is used to simulate Amber.

The Twitterverse felt for Madison, and were skeptical that the amber was fake from the start.
Facebook fans had the same feeling he would be out $200. Hey, you win some, you lose some.

Check out these behind-the-scenes pics:

Join the discussion

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nahald June 13 2014 at 11:28 AM

If you did not the know, the entire show is "staged" by producers, including the conflicts among the staff and owners. It's actually just another so-called "reality" show with a staff of writers.

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25 replies
davidaglass June 13 2014 at 2:48 PM

I actually like Pawn Stars - seem that you always learn a little bit about history or art or literature, and maybe a thing or two about cars and motorcycles. Ok, the 'reality' part is about as realistic as professional wresting, but it is somewhat amusing. No worse than Gilligan's Island, that's for sure.

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2 replies
jlea112 davidaglass June 19 2014 at 2:47 PM

I'm a bit of a history buff, so I like Pawn Stars. It's all staged, I know, but they have a lot of Civil War, Revolutionary War trinkets, and I find that interesting.

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1 reply
dsamsil jlea112 July 08 2014 at 10:22 AM

Nothing is staged. The items are quite real. The people bringing in them did get the money that they negotiated for. There was no scripting no lines fed etc. The old man etc are there on filming days. Otherwise it's just the normal workers you see in the background of the episodes doing all the work.

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S.V.Moore davidaglass July 15 2014 at 6:08 AM

You can and do enjoy what you wish to. I just think why not just produce a better show? Cheaper to produce these "reality shows" and it shows. In regards to "Gilligan's Island" that show never made itself out to be something it wasn't? "history Channel" that I got to know and love was always first-rate and straight forward truthful, was that too much to expect and enjoy? Whatever???

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1 reply
Alliedcries S.V.Moore August 28 2014 at 1:12 AM

TV is a business. And that show made history more money then others if they made a show to your likening it would not have made the money that pawn stars did

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eaglephoenix2 June 13 2014 at 2:35 PM

I can't stand these fakes. The whole lot of oversized buffoons taking up valuable airspace for a network devoted to history is a waste of everyone's time and gives them unwarranted celebrity and advertising for their overpriced shop.

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10 replies
Bobby June 13 2014 at 11:02 AM

This "Madison" is an actor that plays different characters one time on each show to raise the rating of the show. So, this whole article is an advertisement for the tv show Pawn Stars" a fake about a fake. A point- the itemof a spider in plastic is available on ebay but never was when this guy was 10 years old- that is an outright lie.

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9 replies
jeljim June 13 2014 at 4:03 PM

With a chump like Chumley it's hard to imagine this shop doing $20 million a year !

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4 replies
Pirate Imageing June 13 2014 at 11:50 AM

fake show with nothing but clowns and not funny jokes

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5 replies
douttfire June 13 2014 at 4:26 PM

My 13 year old just walked by and said, "It's red! Amber is yellowish-brown! It even looks fake." There you have it....from the mouths of babes.

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6 replies
breakness June 13 2014 at 5:56 PM

As a Certified Gemologist Appraiser and member of the American Gem Society I can report that amber is one of the easiest materials to identify. Apart from simply examination with a microscope the test involves heating an ordinary sewing needle and then touching the very hot needle to a place on the sample that is not noticeable. If amber there will be a distinct odor of resin. If it is plastic it will smell like plastic. There is absolutely no reason to subject the sample to a $200 procedure.

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2 replies
thelaughingpig breakness June 14 2014 at 3:52 AM

My maternal Grandfather and Uncle were jewelers and were both GIA certified gemologists.. My Mother had a necklace made of amber- looking beads. It was beautiful. For many years, she thought it was just a cheap plastic costume piece. One day, her father said he wanted to test it to see if it might actually be true amber. Mom laughed and gave it to him. He did the hot needle test and discovered that it really was amber! Mom was dumbfounded. She said that she never would have guessed it was real. My niece now has it and loves to tell the story of how a cheap plastic necklace actually turned out to be the real deal.

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1 reply
bienhoa72alum thelaughingpig September 23 2014 at 3:32 PM

You are p;probably right, but the "fee" probably included certification of the item. If it the person said it was real and it was later found out to be fake, then the person who certified it can be blamed. There was probably also shipping charges with a hefty fee for insuring what could have been a $50,000 item.

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dsamsil breakness July 08 2014 at 10:23 AM

Unless you want the amber to be identified as a certain type and have the documentation then you pay for the test.

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Franco June 13 2014 at 12:25 PM

Great show, it tells the weak gullible minded how little their stuff is really worth. Hey, if a book saiz something is worth one million, sell it to the book. At auction, a good % goes to the auction house and on a bad day, one is lucky to literally receive one third of the worth the book saiz it is worth. Lets not forget taxes on the sale. Cash is cash people!

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7 replies
rychdog June 13 2014 at 2:21 PM

I've seen George Stephanopoulous purchase a book on the show...so the guy "Madison" is allegedly an actor..so what? It's a TV show...just entertainment like any dopey football or basketball game.

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2 replies
songbirdgray rychdog June 13 2014 at 5:41 PM


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3 replies
Alliedcries rychdog August 28 2014 at 1:38 AM

I agree with everything you said if you take dopey out of your comment......it's a lot of thing but not dopey

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