on June 11, 2001
I have been interested in amateur gemstones since 1962 and this is the best introductory book I've ever seen about the subject. It's full of outstanding pictures that illustrate just about everything most beginners might want to know. It starts with an excellent and concise section on general gem lore, gem properties, and gem handling. Then it has the best color key to gems that I've seen. This key makes it easy to find the information about a given gemstone without using the index. If one prefers, there is a good index too. After the Color Key, there are pages about specific stones with a description, where they are found and remarks. All standard gem properties are shown, with excellent pictures to illustrate the color, crystal shape, cleavage, uses, etc. All in all, this is the introduction to gemstones to judge others by. It's also useful for more advanced "rockhounds" as a reference and field guide. The binding is quite durable and should stand up to a lot of travel. I wish this book had been available 40 years ago.
on July 12, 2001
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS AND THIS BOOK HAS TERRIFIC PICTURES AND VERY CLEAR AND CONCISE DESCRIPTIONS. EVERYTHING THAT I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE SUBJECT IS ANSWERED IN THIS BOOK. THERE'S A VISUAL GUIDE TO OVER 130 GEMSTONE VARIETIES AND A COLOR KEY FOR EVERY GEMSTONE. THERE ARE SO MANY INTERESTING BITS OF INFORMATION HERE THAT THE READER GETS A COURSE IN HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, SCIENCE AND FOLKLORE. FOR INSTANCE, THE CUSTOM OF WEARING BIRTHSTONE JEWELRY STARTED IN 18TH CENTURY POLAND; THE MASK OF TUTANKHAMEN WAS MADE OF LAPIS FROM AFGHANISTAN AND THE BEAUTIFUL PINK MORGANITE WAS NAMED AFTER J.P. MORGAN. THIS IS A SUPER REFERENCE BOOK!
on May 16, 2001
I have three of the Eyewitness Handbooks ("Cats," "Horses," "Gemstones") and they are a browser's delight. The "Gemstones" handbook claims to be a "visual guide to more than 130 gemstone varieties," and has over 800 true-color photographs of everything from achroite (tourmaline) to zoisite (Tanzanite), with all of the more familiar gemstones such as aquamarines and rubies in between.
This book reminds me of a gemology course I took while in college. The instructor used to pass around trays of gemstones so that we could observe and handle examples of what we were studying. (He always counted the stones when the tray came back to him, which was the only thing that kept me honest.) "Gemstones" set my mouth to watering just like those trays of yesteryear. The text accompanying the photographs is also rigorous enough to be used for an introductory course in gemology. It is organized to accompany the photographs, and there are also special sections on the physical properties of gemstones, where they are found, their history and folklore, and a very lovely color key to the gems.
The author, Cally Hall is a fellow of the Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain, and is a member of the curatorial team at the Natural History Museum in London. She specializes in the study of colored gemstones, so I think this book must have been a labor of love. Here is what she has to say about them:
"The mysterious appeal of gemstones, their exquisite colors and the play of light within them, would alone have made them precious to many, but their rarity, hardness, and durability have made them doubly valuable. The natural beauty, strength, and resilience of gems have inspired beliefs in their supernatural origins and magical powers, and stones that have survived the centuries have gathered a wealth of history and romance around them."
If you always make a special effort to see the gem collections when you visit the Smithsonian or the Victoria and Albert Museum or any of a number of Natural History Museums, I think you will enjoy Cally Hall's Eyewitness Handbook of "Gemstones."
on May 13, 2000
Very good reference book to gems, stones and bones used in jewelry and ornamentations. The hardness scale guide, is inserted right there with the stones ID. (No page flipping) I like the color guide section too. Excellent photos and character trait explanations.