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Gem Identification Made Easy

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Gem Identification Made Easy

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Gem Identification Made Easy
3rd Edition - Updated & Expanded
A Hands-On Guide to More Confident Buying & Selling
By Antoinette Matlins & A.C. Bonanno
GemStone Press (2003)
ISBN: 0-943763-34-7

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - Posted July 12, 2012

Whether you are buying or selling gems, it is vital that you are able to accurately identify the stone that you are looking at. Learning how to identify gems is not as hard as you might think. A first step in becoming proficient at gem identification is to read Antoinette Matlins and A.C. Bonanno new guide book, Gem Identification Made Easy, 3rd Edition. The next step is to practice what you have learned in the pages of this unique and practical guide.

Written by Matlins, a respected gemstone and jewelry expert, and Bonanno, the former President of National Gem Appraising Laboratory, this text is authoritative and well-organized. Covering everything from how to set up a gem testing lab to tips on buying antique jewelry, this book provides step-by-step guidance on learning how to identify both natural and synthetic gems.

Detailed information is provided on the equipment you 'must have' such as a loupe, chelsea filter, dichroscope, refractometer, and microscope. As well, those items that are not essential, but which may come in handy, such as a spectroscope, polariscope, and a diamond-type spotter, are also detailed. In addition to listing the items that you may need, or want to have in your lab, the authors also describe what each item is for, how to use them, and what they normally cost. The need for proper lighting is also explored, as is how various forms of lighting, such as fluorescent lights, can impact your perception of a gems quality and color.

Throughout the text is enhanced by the inclusion of colored photos, as well as line drawings, diagrams, black and white pictures, a plethora of handy charts and tables, such as Gemstone Property Tables, and a glossary. Space for personal notes is scattered throughout the text. Most important, tips are provided on how to differentiate between natural and synthetic gems, and how to identify inclusions and blemishes.

This hand-on guide will be invaluable to anyone wishing to learn how to identify gemstones. The section on identifying and buying gems in antique and estate jewelry will be especially enlightening, both to those buying and selling these items. As the text states, "Never assume that because something is old, or belong to the best of families... that it is what it appears to be... often this is not the case." (pg. 223.) This section will also fascinate anyone interested in the history of antique jewelry as it examines the various techniques once used to enhance gems, such as backing a gem with a piece of colored, metallic foil. Instruction is also given on how to identify composite and imitation stones.

Granted, this text will not turn you, overnight, into an expert gemologist. However it does provide you with the basic information and skills that you need to identify common gems. Information that will not only enable you to make an informed decision when buying gems, but which will also enable you to determine when you should have a stone evaluated by a professional gemologist. For those seeking to continue with their gemologist training, the authors have included a recommended reading list as well a list of formal training centers from around the world. Other resource lists that are included cover such topics as equipment suppliers and gem testing laboratories.

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