Book Review | Secrets of The Gem Trade: The Connoisseurs Guide To Precious Gemstones

Secrets of the Gem Trade Second Edition is available now!


Update 7/6/16 – according to the website there has been a publishing delay and the second edition will not be available until fall 2016.

A book written for the gemstone connoisseur. Whether you are a novice, trained gemologist, dealer, jeweler or eat gemstones for breakfast. Secrets of the gem trade by Richard W. Wise should be on your book shelf!

What I like most about this book is how it is written. Gemstone books are typically heavy on science jargon and lack story. They make great reference material but I don’t generally consider them a great read. Richard W. Wise is not only a good story teller he has good stories to tell.

About the Author

Richard W. Wise is a graduate gemologist, gold smith, and former retail jeweler. He has traveled to gem mines and far flung places all over the world in search of gemstones and their stories. Wise, shares his gemstone adventures throughout the book.

About Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseurs Guide To Precious Gemstones

Secrets of the gem trade is two parts. At the start of the book Wise, lays the foundation for the connoisseur with a history of precious gems. The concept of what makes a gemstone precious. A detailed overview of the market and discussion of industry standards for grading. Standards for the connoisseur as well as advice for finding and buying gemstones. The best types of light to view specific stones, gemstones cuts, the four c’s and a new way to think of the four c’s.

Part two guides the connoisseur on a journey from mine to market. Individual gemstones are discussed in detail.

Where and how gemstones are mined and how to evaluate each gemstone, as well as treatments and rarity. Roughly thirty six gemstones are covered in the first edition.

Tourmaline is covered in 6 chapters – Paraiba Tourmaline, Green Tourmaline, Chrome Green Tourmaline, Blue Tourmaline, Red Pink/Tourmaline and other tourmaline colors.

I enjoyed every bit of this book but I did know some of the information in it. Richard W. Wise did a superb job at presenting the familiar material to me in a new way.

My favorite essays/chapters are the world of pearls and introduction and overview of opal.  At the time of reading this book I did not know much about pearls or opal. I enjoyed diving into these chapters with vivid descriptions of the authors personal journey.

A trip to Manihi Island (a tiny island 350 miles from French Polynesia) to learn the art of pearl farming. A trip to the dry desert of the Australian outback learn the struggles of opal mining. These are some of the wonderful personal adventures shared in this book.

Accompanying personal photos from the author are photographs from world renowned gemstones photographers.

I would like to have seen a great deal more on gemstone treatments and synthetics. More images of rough stones along with their faceted counterparts.

A fantastic book for anyone with an interest in gemstones.

Secrets of the Gem Trade Second Edition is available for pre-order on amazon. It is due in hard copy fall 2016. Their are eleven new chapters, five new essays, and seventy five new photographs. The book has been rewritten, revised and expanded.


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    1 Response

    1. Richard W. Wise


      Thanks very much for your notice concerning my second edition. Thankfully, it is out now. It just kept growing! We added 161 new images, uu new chapters and 127 pages.

      Richard W. Wise

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