British Journal of Gemology Review: Secrets Of The Gem Trade (2nd Edition)
Secrets of the Gem Trade, 2nd edn.
By Richard W. Wise, 2016. Brunswick House Press, Lenox, Massachusetts, USA, 404 pages, illus., ISBN 978-0972822329.
Why publish a second edition of the successful Secrets of the Gem Trade? Wise perhaps explains it best in his preface: “This second edition has been enlarged and largely rewritten. Five new introductory essays and 10 new chapters have been added together with numerous photographs.” The new volume has 64 chapters and covers 45 gems that Wise believes “should be included in any contemporary list of precious gemstones”. He has added 11 more gems in this second edition. He also notes “that the essays in this edition assume that the reader has studied and understands” the principles in his first edition.
The table of contents covers four pages, and is fol- lowed by a five-page preface titled ‘Lifting the Veil’, which personalizes Wise’s experience learning the secrets of the trade, followed by an introduction written by Vincent Par- dieu and a foreword penned by Benjamin Zucker, both well-known authors who praise this second edition.
The book is then divided into Parts 1 and 2. Each chapter starts off with a relevant quotation, often by historic gem authors—a nice touch. In Part 1, the first seven chapters (90 pages) cover gemmology, history, connoisseurship, enhancement and new sources. Wise redefines the ‘Four Cs’ (colour, cut, clarity and carat weight) by adding a fifth C: ‘crystal’. He often uses this term ‘crystal’ instead of referring to a gemstone as being transparent or diaphanous in his descriptions of the individual gem materials. This reviewer thinks this term belongs together with the concept of clarity— perhaps as a top clarity.
Part 2 is titled ‘A New List of Precious Gemstones’. It starts with Chapter 8, on page 91, with alexandrite and continues to page 361, Chapter 54, on cobalt-blue spinel. Throughout these chapters are numerous im- ages of historic subjects, gem mining areas, gemstones and fine jewellery pieces. Notable photographers are given credits throughout.
The book ends with a good glossary, a five-page bibliography and an extensive 16-page index to make finding information easy.
Both editions of Secrets of the Gem Trade show- case Wise’s passion for the gemstone world. This re- viewer recommends this book to amateurs and professionals alike.
William F. Larson FGA Palagems.com, Fallbrook, California, USA