When it comes to books or music or anything else for that matter, one does not have to exist at the exclusion of others. In my opinion, they can happily co-exist and are often complimentary to other. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and these should be embraced rather than discounted.
There are several things that I personally look for in a book.To me the esthetics are very important. It’s like a meal in a restaurant. It might taste great but if it is poorly plated, it seems to take something away from the overall dining experience. I hate books, particularly gemmological publications, where it is apparent the publishers have tried to cut corners. There is no excuse for poor quality paper, smaller than normal text, limited imagery or even worse, poor reproduction of those images. Ilike a page to breathe; I don’t want clutter. I also want a book to speak to me in a language I understand. After all, why do we buy books? To make ourselves appear less intelligent or to engage us and encourage us to explore every last sentence on every last page.
I also want a book that is comfortable to read. Small books that are overly thick are simply impossible to hold or read. Sure you can break the binding but do you really want to do that to a book?
I like Richard’s book for all the right reasons. It ticks all the boxes from an esthetics perspective and while we should never judge a book by it’s cover, it is human nature to gravitate towards things that have appeal and ‘Secrets of the Gem Trade Second Edition’ has lots of curb appeal.Of course, a book is more than just packaging. It’s no good if it looks great but tastes bad. To me there is no greater letdown.
When I unpacked Richard’s book, it immediately piqued my interest and I am happy to say that that initial euphoria carried right through into the content of the book.
At 385 pages and fty-two chapters, Secrets of the Gem Trade 2nd Edition has added 127 pages, eleven new chapters, ve new introductory essays and 161 additional photographs to the 1st edition (2002).
While this is not a book that will help you identify gemstones or to separate a blue spinel from a blue sapphire, it will teach you how to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’.
I can remember once working as an appraiser in a retail store and being asked by a sales associate for my opinion on a Padparadscha sapphire that a dealer wanted to sell
to her. In his words it was ‘of the nest quality’. Before she opened the stone paper, I showed her a photograph of a ne Padparadscha sapphire that Tino Hammid had taken and then watched her facial expressions. Clearly, the sapphire contained in the stone paper was not ‘of the nest quality’ but I wanted her to reach that conclusion. I don’t like bursting bubbles but at the same token, I don’t like others to create bubbles that have to be burst. The sapphire in question had a hint of orange, no pink and was in my opinion ‘commercial quality’ at the best. The asking price was over $ 9,000 Canadian dollars. The dealer left the store with the stone in hand and I could tell from his body language that I was not going to be high on his Christmas list. Still I was simply doing my job and my co-worker was happy that I had helped her avoid making a very bad purchasing decision.
Secrets of the Gem Trade 2nd edition will burst many bubbles by setting the record straight. It will inform and educate those who read it by making them aware of what is good and what is not.
The use of drop shadowing makes the images jump off the page, giving them a life of their own and while some will disagree with Richard’s assertion that ‘crystal’ or diaphaneity should replace carat weight as the fourth ‘C’, he has a point.
Divided into two parts, the rst section covers the ‘Essentials’ needed to become a ‘Gem Connoisseur’. Here you will learn about how the market works, how gemstones are graded, treatments and enhancements and new gem sources. The second section contains important information on no less than forty-seven species or varieties of gemstones from colourless and fancy coloured diamonds through the ‘Big Three’ (rubies, sapphires and emeralds) to alexandrite, the quartz and garnet families, pearls, opals, jade, tourmaline, topaz, spinel, peridot, feldspar (moonstone and sunstone), tanzanite and lapis lazuli. The real strength of this section is pinpointing what is important and what is not when it comes to buying a particular gemstone.
Richard is a great writer and storyteller. Clearly he is a man who loves his gemstones and what he does for a living. At times he is frank and to the point, while at other times there is playfulness in his writing.
Sadly we work in an industry where many view educationas a bad thing. Content to believe what others have toldthem and perpetuate the falsehoods that have existed for generations. This is an industry that is not only secretive but based on trust. Many people have been quite content to put their own personal gains above all else and betray this trust. This industry needs the ‘good guys’ who are not afraid to tell it how it is. Richard Wise is one of these guys who has made it his personal mission, based on years of experience, to dispel these untruths and give his readers the tools they need to make informed decisions.
Reviewed by Geoffrey M. Dominy (Handbook of Gemmology)