Review of Secrets Of The Gem Trade (2nd Edition) On

I wrote a book review for the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Having said what I felt about this book from the standpoint of a gemologist and appraiser, I then had a very hard time writing a different review for Pearl Guide. So, rather than sit with writer’s block indefinitely, I am sharing my NAJA review:

Secrets of the Gem Trade 2nd Edition, by Richard W. Wise, GG, Reviewed by Blaire Beavers, GG, for the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, December 1, 2016

I am certain that many of you have read the first edition of Secrets of the Gem Trade. I read the first edition as I was embarking on my first formal gemological training. Raised by a geologist father and growing up a rockhound, I had read extensively and thought I knew a lot about gemstones. I had many opportunities to see fine gems at trade shows, but was lacking an essential element in their evaluation—connoisseurship.

Richard Wise opened my eyes to a whole new way of viewing gems. Connoisseurship allows us to search out and enjoy the finer aspects of gems without necessarily owning them-something an appraiser can appreciate as a great variety of gems make a steady parade to their door.

The other major concept that rattled my cage was a rethought concept of the revered four Cs, substituting Crystal for Carat Weight. Crystal is the concept of transparency or diaphaneity that is easily observed in diamonds. “Oily” over-fluorescent diamonds may have no inclusions, but they do not compare visually with their highly transparent cousins. This idea made a permanent impact on my evaluation as I started to recognize super-transparency as the reason for my indefinable preference between nearly identical colored stones.

The second edition is better in many ways. There is much more of everything that made the first book great. Richard’s definition of what is precious has expanded to include many new gems. Those of us who have always adored spinel will be pleased to see it featured as well as a new section on natural pearls—eleven new chapters in all.

Visually stunning, the book is a much larger format, beautifully printed and coffee table worthy. As a former press operator, I can especially appreciate the extra expense of spot varnishing the photographs, which makes them come to life on the page. Richard’s eye for photographs and illustration is second to none. (Blushing here, as Richard used one of my photographs, a conch pearl, on page 199.) There are 404 pages and 277 color photographs.

A great author to begin with, Richard has grown as a writer over the last few years. The book is filled with wonderful stories. His descriptions made my gemologist’s heart flutter and his delightful frankness had me laughing out loud at times. This book is a bridge between the beautiful and the technical and should be required reading for all gemology students. It would not be exaggeration to say that this book is the crowning achievement of a lifetime.

The new edition of Secrets of the Gem Trade is the perfect gift for a valued client who wants more than an educational or reference book. It’s an instant immersion into the world of gem connoisseurship and a great read.

Blaire Beavers
Managing Editor
Pearl Guide News


“The author’s writing style and command of the subject matter
keeps the reader captivated”

–Gem Market News

Special Limited Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies,
Secrets Of Gem Trade Second Edition
PLUS a FREE signed copy of Richard Wise’s award winning historical novel The French Blue.

Twofer Price: $199.95
Plus FREE USA Shipping)

Secrets Of The Gem Trade Second Edition has been
completely rewritten revised and expanded.
It is over 1/3rd larger, includes 5 new introductory essays,
11 new chapters and 277 images,
including 161 new additional images.

The Eleven New Chapters Include:
Jadeite / Demantoid Garnet / Natural Nacreous Pearls / Golconda (Type IIa) Diamonds / Conch Pearls / Sunstone / Peridot / Moonstone / Cobalt Blue Spinel /Red/Pink Spinel / Violet Diamonds

Natural Pearls have seen a huge resurgence. Two chapters on Nacreous and Conch Pearls have been added. Jade, the much misunderstood, inscrutable gem is described, for the first time; in terms both Asian and Western readers will understand. In a new introduction, learn the true story of the Blue Whites, the Crème de La Crème of colorless diamonds.

Thanks to reader’s suggestions: Sunstone, Moonstone, Peridot Cobalt Blue Spinel, Demantoid Garnet and Violet Diamonds have been added.

Printed on the highest quality paper, the deluxe hardcover edition includes exclusive images from two major museum collections and an array of the latest auction market icons. Like a fine Renaissance painting, each image has been individually spot varnished for depth and accurate color rendering. The Limited Edition is cloth bound and custom slipcased, individually hand signed and numbered!

PURCHASE deluxe hardcover edition on Amazon!

Secrets Of Gem Trade
Second Edition Click Here

International Orders Click Here

ISBN: 978-0-9728223-2-9
Published by: Brunswick House Press

World Gem Foundation Review of Secrets Of The Gem Trade (Second Edition)

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)

Secrets of The Gem Trade (2nd Edition) One of Eight Five star reviews on

A Great New review of Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones

***** 5.0 out of 5 starsGreat Secrets revealed!
By Deborah Mazza on December 24, 2016
Format: Hardcover

Thirteen years after the first edition came out, Richard W. Wise has published a second edition of his acclaimed book, updated it with added chapters on new gemstone finds, and new high-quality photographs.
Richard W. Wise is a Graduate Gemologist and an author, who trained as a goldsmith and visited gem-producing areas worldwide; he approaches the essays from a philosophical perspective as well as introducing ideas from reputable authors that add an interesting and fresh insight to the trade.

This is a clearly written work, easily understandable demonstrating a deep knowledge of the gem trade. It sparks the reader’s interest in gemstones, explains concepts like beauty, rarity and gem identification keywords, only going to whet the readers appetite for further knowledge and training, which are essential to gain proper experience in the trade.

Well laid out in two parts, with an introduction and overview, the second part deals solely with gemstones. It stimulates the reader with exceptionally informative footnotes; the glossary and ample bibliography provide more information for further study.
This book is a worthy addition to any connoisseur’s library and provides useful information to both novice and expert alike. Richard W. Wise’s novel approach to writing about the gem trade has delivered a book that whilst providing good references is also a great read, one not to miss!

Prepublication Review in Pala International’s Refractive Index Newsletter.

The cat is out of the bag and the gem/jewelry trade press is beginning to react.  When first published in 2003, Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones was lauded as the first book to “lift the veil” as described in a review in GIA’s prestigious Gems & Gemology Magazine.  Sixteen years later Secrets is still the first and only book to tackle the arcane subject of connoisseurship and grading in gemstones.  Yes, there are guides, but Secrets delves deep into the ancient texts and goes in depth gemstone by gemstone.

Secrets also features paradigm images so the reader can see, gem by gem some of the finest examples of each gem species and variety.  From the Renaissance onward, some of the greatest painting, Da Vinci, were varnished for depth and true color.  Like the masterpieces of old, each image in Secrets (2nd edition) is individually spot varnished for accurate color rendering.

NewGemBook_ lg72For more specifics, read the review in Pala International’s Refractive Index Newsletter.

Secrets of the Gem Trade (2nd edition) Completely Revised.


November 2016 will mark the publication of the 2nd edition of Secrets Of The Gem Trade, NewGemBook_500hThe Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones.  The book has been expanded from 277 to 404 pages with eleven additional chapters and five new introductory essays and 171 new photographs.  The chapters on ruby, emerald, and spinel have been totally revised and rewritten. 

Author and former National Geographic writer/photographer Fred Ward called Secrets of the Gem Trade:

“A totally different approach to telling the gemstone story.”

when the 1st edition was published in 2003.

In his introduction to the 2nd edition, GIA’s Senior Manager of Field Gemology, Vincent Pardieu writes: 

“I read the 1st edition of Secrets of the Gem Trade in 2003 and literally fell in love with it.  It was the perfect book.  It provided just the information I needed to round out my gemological studies.KV back cover spinelsm-

On the 2nd edition, Pardieu writes:

“The book is a gold mine.  i highly recommend it as one of the most useful books I have ever read about gemstones.


Benjamin Zucker, scholar and author of Gems & Jewels, A Connoisseur’s Guide writes:

“The second edition builds substantially on the first edition…breaks new ground in the discussion of blue-white diamonds and includes perhaps the most sensitive overview on the aesthetics of jade to be found in the English language.