The second edition of the best-selling Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Precious Gemstones is available now, more than a decade after the first one was released.
Lenox, Mass.--The colored gemstone market is dependent on a number of factors, and fluctuations in supply and demand mean that a lot can change in a decade’s time.

For this reason, one author has given his book on the market an update.

The second edition of gem expert Richard Wise’s Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Precious Gemstones, covering the criteria used by professionals to judge the quality and value of gemstones, is out now.

Brunswick House Press first published the book in 2003, and it became a best-seller. Wise has been traveling and researching since then, slowly compiling new information and updates for the next copy of the book.

“A number of things have changed in the gem world in the 14 years (since),” Wise told National Jeweler. “In a sense, the principles of connoisseurship and quality are immutable, right? They don’t change. On the other hand, what’s available in the market has changed.”

For example, the supply of rubies has changed greatly since he wrote the last book. At that time, Myanmar was the only real source. Now Madagascar has come online and is a major player in the trade, he said.

What’s more, only some of the Madagascar rubies look like Burmese rubies, which means that the guide to evaluating the gem needed to be updated to differentiate between the types, as well as the types from a few other sources that have since emerged.

20161101 Blue-tourmalineThis shot of blue tourmaline is featured in the new book. Photo credit: Nomad’s
Wise added 11 gemstone chapters to the second edition of his book, like two on red spinel and cobalt blue spinel.

He said that spinel has always been a “dealer’s stone”--they’ve been trying to sell it to people for years and not been able to do it. 

“That all changed when Mahenge [Tanzania] came online, and the cobalt blues were discovered in North Vietnam. Now, all of a sudden, we have a 1,200 percent increase in the price of blue and pink and red spinels,” he said.

Wise added that the paradigm also has shifted on red spinel, as new sources produced stones that look less like rubies, which the market was familiar with, and have a greater saturation of color.

Additions also include sections on pearls--both natural nacreous pearls and conch pearls--which have seen a major resurgence since the last book was published, and a chapter on jade, as the gem has become somewhat of an interest to Western buyers.

Other stones added are moonstone, sunstone, colorless diamonds, Golconda or Type IIa diamonds, demantoid garnet, peridot and violet diamonds.

There also are five new introductory essays, including from the Gemological Institute of America’s Vincent Pardieu, and more than 100 new photographs.

Wise, who has visited most of the major and many of the minor gem-producing areas of the world, also authored The French Blue, in addition to having written many articles for publications like GIA’s Gems & Gemology, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Colored Stone magazine.

The 404-page Secrets of the Gem Trade is $99.95, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most other major book retailers.

More information about the guide also can be found on

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