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Selected General References

Lavender-hued rose quartz, Brazil

A trip to your local library is the best first step toward understanding gemstones and toward planning a trip to gem and rock shops or to places where you may be able to collect gemstones.

Lavender-hued rose quartz, Brazil
Photograph courtesty of
The Smithsonian Institution

The references below focus mainly on natural gemstones and the gems made from them rather than on synthetic gemstones, rocks, or other nongem minerals.

Minerals Yearbook

The relatively few pages on gemstones in the multivolume Minerals Yearbook provide data on sources, kinds, and volume of domestic production, domestic consumption, prices, and foreign trade. This U.S. Bureau of Mines yearbook is in the reference sections of many major libraries. It can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.


Gemology, Cornelius S. Hurlbut Jr. and Robert C. Kammerling: John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1991, 2nd ed.

Gemstones and Their Origins, Peter C. Keller: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990.

Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones, Joel Arem: Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1987, 2nd ed., 68 p.

Gemstones for Everyman, B.W. Anderson: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976, 268 p.

Gems and Precious Stones, Curzio Cipriani and Alessandro Boreli; Valerie Palmer, translator: Kennie Lyman, U.S. editor: Simon and Schuster, New York,1986,384 p.

Gem and Crystal Treasures, Peter Bancroft: Mineralogical Record, Carson City, NV, 1984, 488 p.

Planet Earth--Gemstones, Paul O'Neil and the editors of Time-Life Books: Time-Life Books, Arlington, VA, 1983, 176 p.

Gemstones of the World, Walter Schumann (translated by Evelyne Stern): Sterling, New York, 1984, 256 p.

Gems & Crystals from the American Museum of Natural History: An illustrated guide to the history, lore, and properties of the gems and minerals of one of the world's greatest collections, Anna S. Sofiandes and George E. Harlow: Simon & Schuster, New York, 1990, 208 p.

The Gem Collection (Treasures in the Smithsonian Series No.1), P.E. Desautels: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1983, 77 p.

Gemstones of North America, John Sinkankas: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., Princeton, 1959, 675 p.

Gems and Precious Stones of North America--A popular description of their occurrence, value, history, archeology, and of collections in which they exist, G.F. Kunz: Dover Publishing, New York, 1968 (reprint of a classic work dated 1892), 367 p.

Emerald and Other Beryls, John Sinkankas: Chilton Way, Radnor, PA, 1981, 665 p.

Handbook of Gem Identification, R.T. Liddicoat Jr.: Gemological Institute of America, Santa Monica, CA, 1981 (11th ed.), 450 p.

Field Collecting Gemstones and Minerals, John Sinkankas: Geoscience Press, Prescott, AZ, 1988, 2nd ed., 397 p.

Prospecting for Gemstones and Minerals [Formerly Gemstones and Minerals: How and Where to Find Them], John Sinkankas: Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1970, 2nd ed., 397 p.

Mineral & Gem Trails of Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ed and Bert Sloan: EDSCO, Box 79, Oneonta, NY 13820, 1978, 52 p.

Gem Testing, B.W. Anderson: Butterworth, Woburn, MA, 1980, 9th ed., 384 p.

Gemology, C.S. Hurlbut Jr. and G.S. Switzer: Wiley, New York, 1979, 596 p.

Gems and Jewelry, Joel Arem: Bantam Books, New York, 1975, 159 p.

Gem Cutting: A Lapidary's Manual, John Sinkankas: Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1962, 2nd ed., 297 p.


Gems and Gemology (quarterly). Articles on gemstone localities, identification, and history. Includes annual index, lab notes, book reviews, and gemological abstracts. Published by the Gemological Institute of America, 1660 Stewart Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404.

Lapidary Journal (monthly). Articles on gemstones, locality information, expeditions to find sources of gemstones, gemcraft, club news, show news, product news, and book reviews. Published by the Lapidary Journal, Devon Office Center, Suite 201, 60 Chestnut Avenue, Devon, PA 19333-1312.

Rocks & Minerals (bimonthly). Features articles of interest to students of mineralogy, geology, and paleontology. Includes articles about gemstone localities. Regularly lists announcements of hundreds of mineral, rock, and gem shows (local, State, national, Canadian, and European). Includes media reviews, museum notes and announcements, and classified ads. Published by Heldref Publications, 4000 Albermarle Street, NW., Washington, DC 20016.

Jewelers' Book Club - Catalog (annual). Catalog of more than 550 jewelry-related publications from more than 250 publishers. Includes video- and audio-cassettes and book reviews. Jewelers' Book Club - News (quarterly) informs members of new titles and provides book reviews. Published by the Jewelers Book Club, Chilton Way, Radnor, PA 19089.


Gemstones of America (60 minutes), Smithsonian Institution, 1991, can be ordered for $29.95 from the Museum Shop, Attention: Mail Order Clerk, National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20560; (202) 357-1535.

Splendid Stones. This National Geographic Society special details the evolution from raw material to cut and polished gem, outlines many of the steps involved in marketing gemstones, and examines some of the world's most famous jewelry collections. It can be ordered for $95 from the National Geographic Society, 17th and M Streets NW., Washington, DC 20036.

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Last modified 07-11-2008 (jmw)