Gemstones is the essential resource for lapidarists, serious gem collectors and amateur
As well as the naturally occurring minerals that have long been prized as
gemstones-for example, diamonds, emeralds and rubies the book covers organic gems, such as
pearls, amber and coral, and synthetic gems and simulants, also known as imitations.
Part 1: The World of Gemstones examines the appeal of gemstones, the basic
rock types, principles of crystal formation and physical properties.
Part 2: A Gemstone Guide makes up the main encyclopedic section of the book
and provides information on the origins, properties and qualities of over 200 stones, as
well as major world sources.
Part 3: The Art of The Gem explores the history and popularity of collecting,
the cutting and finishing processes, and the ways in which stones can be enhanced or
Arthur Thomas is a gemologist and gem dealer based in Sandton, Johannesburg.
He has more than 35 years' experience in the gem trade, both as a dealer and educator. He is
a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, a Graduate Gemologist of the
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and founder of the Gemmological Association of South
Back of the Book
Gemstones is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the world of precious gems and
Features over 200 mineral gems, organics and synthetics
Clear, concise and user-friendly
Includes background information on crystal structures and rock types
Stunning photos and precise diagrams allow for easy identification
Each entry features an easy-reference table of properties, which include hardness,
cleavage and fracture.
Designed as a reference guide for gem and crystal collectors, gemologists, gem dealers,
jewelers, gem-setters, goldsmiths, lapidaries and rock-hounds, this amply illustrated book
will have appeal for anyone who can appreciate the incredible variety of hue and form to be
found in the gem and mineral kingdom.
A brief summary deals with the structure of the Earth and the nature of the rocks and
minerals comprising the lithosphere (crust) and the upper mantle. The crystal systems and
the effects that structure and composition have on the properties of the various gem
materials are described. Gem identification both in the field and in the laboratory, the
cutting and polishing of gems and methods of gem enhancement and gem grading are summarized.
A section is devoted to the methods employed in the synthesis of gem materials and the
manufacture of gem simulants. The various organic gems such as amber, ivory, jet, natural
and cultured pearls are described, then the collection and housing of gem crystals from
micro-mounts to cabinet specimens and of cut gems is reviewed.
Minerals may be the stars of this show but the world of gemstones is far from being
inanimate. Vibrant, dynamic and multi-faceted it is populated with a human cast of
The mining and marketing of gems assumes particular importance in the poorer
countries of the developing world where it creates many jobs and brings in much needed hard
currency. Working accessible gem deposits or 'noodling' the dumps of established mines
provides a living for the garimperos of Angola, Mozambique and Brazil, the 'pork-knockers'
of Venezuela, the diggers of South-East Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Central, East
and West Africa and countless others. The rough they produce is then sorted, graded,
marketed and processed. The gem-cutting industry is labour-intensive, currently employing
more than a million people in India alone, a figure that is growing by 15 per cent per
annum. Other important gem-cutting centres are Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Korea and Taiwan.
As well as providing employment on such a large scale, the products of the industry bring
pleasure to countless millions.
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