Every goldsmith, jeweler, gemologist, gem lab, gem dealer and gemstone
collector needs a copy of this book around. Especially gem collectors
connoisseurs, at whom the book is primarily aimed.
This very readable book represents the accumulated wisdom and experience
a lifetime in the field, and especially a life committed to examining
buying gemstones, as well as selling them. The view is unique, and rich
with examples and deep background information. In fact the view is
different than any other book in the field. It is eminently practical
deals with the skills of connnoissiourship, that is how to really look
and see a gem, what the subtleties and conventions are. This view is one
that people in our field need to hear and take account of. The language
used is rich, flavored and interesting. Wise's strong personality comes
through clearly as does his logic as he questions assumptions, institutions
(gasp-even GIA at times) and invents new words and concepts to make his
points about evaluating gems. New ideas include Daystones' and Nightstones'
gems which truly work best under different lighting conditions. And the
idea of Crystal' an older term reintroduced, a term to evaluate a sense
clarity, transparency and even 'glow' in a gem.
Real and apparent rarity are discussed at length and their implications
gem prices. He makes a good case that the diamond grading system's
intention is to increase apparent rarity of diamonds and is a handy
marketing device in this regard for a monopolized business whose gems
perhaps, not so rare at all.
He's done a marvelous job of this first book, a monumental work, a tour
force. There is a pleasant critique of the established system, a clear
independence of thought. All that and nice thick creamy paper, excellent
layout and binding too. There is a thoroughly respectable bibliography.
The book begins with a discussion of preciousness, history and concepts.
Market forces are discussed at length. Then issues of connoisseurship
dealt with along with a really great overview of theories and applications
(for gem evaluation) of light, color, dispersion, and cut. Buying advice
and dealer's tricks are scattered throughout the text, as are hints for
strategic buying for the best return. Gems and qualities ignored by the
trade are pinpointed for the canny investor and gem buyer to take advantage
of. There are astute statements such as "poor cutting is almost always
result of a well thought out weight retention strategy".
And over and over there is detail about how to actually look at a gem,
to see and how to appreciate it and value it. And how and why the trade
values one thing over another. Pithy shopping tips are everywhere, such
always get the price stated before the pick, then select, and if necessary
remind the dealer of the tradition that once given a price cannot be
There is great information about stars, catseyes, pearls and diamonds.
Colorless diamonds and their grading are covered in more depth and more
sensibly than I've seen elsewhere. There is good information on gem
treatments and how they relate to disclosure and to the market. Really
to date information on new sources, and newer gemstones spills from those
chapters. Numerous gems are dealt with in depth, from a buyers point of
This information is a great addition for the gemologist, whose references
are often theoretical or deliberately academic in nature. There are some
truly current comments on new diamond cut studies and conclusions (there
no ideal cut!). Wise argues that there are in fact an infinite number
ideal cuts for diamond if computer models are used to vary proportions.
talks about recent changes in thought on the value of blue fluorescing
diamonds (its ok after all).
Areas that I think Wise misses on includes his approach to synthetics,
which barely rate comment, except with the caveat "to have a gem
from a reputable gem lab accompany the purchase" or "the dealer
natural on the sales certificate", which is fine given the viewpoint
book but to my mind missed certain information that might be useful to
buying gems, and to the gemologist and goldsmith lessen the apparent value
of the book a bit. For instance there is no reference to synthetic
moissanite or to irradiated green diamonds in the section on green diamonds
(yes I know they were very rare). In yellow diamonds there is no mention
all of the current crop of yellow synthetics which are coming in and which
beat the best natural ones for color and quality. Given the amount of
rest of the valuable information in the book this is a fairly minor
quibble, but one that stuck out for me. Wise responded that this was a
conscious decision because of the numerous other books available
specializing in treatments and synthetics. He says " In fact, any
of the issue is almost obsolete by the time it is published, eg. deep
diffusion, lattice diffusion, they don't even know how the latest one
actually done. My objective was to deal with just what you point out,
connoisseurship and quality evaluation".
My recommendation: Buy this book! It is an invaluable addition to gemstone
literature and a necessary part of the library of all involved in the
field. Wise is a renowned author, whose articles have appeared in many
magazines, including GIA's Gems and Gemology, as well as having a retail
jewelry gallery and store. This means that he understands the goldsmiths
point of view as well as the clients and the collector.
Purchase your own copy of "The Secrets of the Gem Trade" today.
- Paperback: 274 pages
- Publisher: Brunswick House Pr (January 30, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0972822380
- ISBN-13: 978-0972822381
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 7.5 x 0.9 inches