5 Good Books on Gems and Jewelry for Retailers

The Internet is chock full of great information. But when you need to chase down reliable facts, figures, and best practices on gems and jewelry, nothing beats an exhaustively researched reference book — vetted by the Gemological Institute of America, to boot.

Which is why we asked Dona Dirlam, director of GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center, to give us five of her top books on gems and jewelry, tailored for jewelry retailers.

The Gem Bible

Gems, edited by Michael O’Donoghue (formerly Gems by Webster)

“This book is so comprehensive,” says Dirlam. “It’s currently in its eighth printing and keeps getting revised. It goes through individual gems and talks about locality and treatments and synthetics and substitutes. It’s kind of like the bible of gems.”

Photo courtesy of Robert Hale Publishing 

The Diamond Insider

The Microworld of Diamonds by John Koivula

“This one really looks at what’s inside the diamonds,” says Dirlam. “It will help the jeweler identify the things that make the clarity grades, and talks about what diamonds are and how they form.”

Photo courtesy of Doubleday Books

The Pearl Primer

Pearls by Elisabeth Strack

“This is incredibly comprehensive,” noes Dirlam. “She starts with natural pearls and covers that subject exhaustively. You get the historical perspective and the importance of them through the ages, along with where people are finding them today. She also goes into cultured pearls and goes country by country — you get maps and localities.”

Photo courtesy of GIA

The Jewelry Reference

Jewelry: Concepts And Technology by Oppi Untracht

“This really is the bible of the jewelry books,” says Dirlam. “It goes through different techniques, styles, then walks you through the different cultures and periods in the history of jewelry.”

Photo courtesy of Doubleday Books

The Gem Companion

Gems & Gemology in Review: Colored Diamonds

“We took all of the important articles from Gems & Gemology magazine on colored diamonds and did updates and put that into a review and it’s just excellent,” says Dirlam. “Gem & Gemology is where so much of the best research gets reported.”