Colored Stones: A Ruby and Sapphire Guide, Loretta Castoro’s Lips Jewelry & More

Source Material

In 1997, Richard W. Hughes, American gemologist and gem trade personality, published Ruby & Sapphire, a widely read technical account of corundum intended for his fellow science geeks.

Nearly 20 years later, Hughes has published another book on his two favorite gems, but it differs from his 1997 treatise in a significant way. “It is not one of scientific gemology, but instead represents what I call ‘humanistic gemology’—the relationship between gems and the people and places from which they come,” he writes in the foreword to Ruby & Sapphire: A Collector’s Guide.

True to his word, the coffee-table tome views the far-flung locales where rubies and sapphires are mined—from Afghanistan to ­Vietnam—through the lens of the miners, traders, and cutters who handle the gems before they are transformed into jewels.

“Not every single source is in there, but we covered the big ones,” says Hughes, who recently opened Lotus Gemology, a Bangkok gem lab dedicated to ruby and sapphire. “Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Pakistan—even a couple small ones like Rwanda. I think the only one missing of any consequence is Nigeria, because it mainly produces melee and it’s a very dangerous place.”

Armchair travelers won’t be disappointed: The book, available for purchase on for $99 plus shipping, features 350 pages brimming with historical anecdotes, gemological asides, and gorgeous color photographs—many of them shot by Hughes’ wife, Wimon Manorotkul, and their daughter, E. Billie Hughes—that paint an extraordinary picture of the corundum trade: diverse, diffuse, and downright mythical. —Victoria Gomelsky

Phat Lip

Ring in 18k gold with 5.77 ct. kunzite and 1.8 cts. t.w. Paraiba tourmaline; $6,250; Loretta Castoro, Beverly Hills, Calif.; 865-789-0690;

Loretta Castoro’s lips command a lot of attention. They’re perky, seductive, and, most important, gem-studded in awesome color combinations. Currently, there are lots of lip rings in her line—in mixes including Paraiba and kunzite, London blue topaz and tsavorite, and pink tourmaline and tsavorite—but based on feedback she received at JCK Tucson, Castoro is moving on to lip earrings and pendant necklaces.

“We have had a lot of interest—30 retailers alone at this show,” the Beverly Hills, Calif.–based jeweler and gemologist told JCK the day before the show’s close. “People have asked us to do diamond lips with rubellite centers, black diamond lips, pinky rings, smaller sizes, stud earrings, and different styles of pendants.” Retail prices for existing looks range from $3,250 to $6,750. —Jennifer Heebner

For more colorful gemstone talk

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