Whether you’re appraising an exotic gemstone or just starting a gem collection, you need gemology reference books to help you analyze and identify gemstones. Our review covers four works essential for your gemology library.

Gemstones of the World. Walter Schumann. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, 2001. 272 pp.

This book is one of the best introductions to gemology. It covers all the basic topics in a well organized and easy to understand manner. The photographs and diagrams are well chosen to clarify concepts and to illustrate the varied appearances a gem species may have.

Schumann begins by defining basic gemological terms and gemstone properties. These are complex subjects but they are introduced in a clear, concise fashion. The majority of his book is devoted to descriptions of individual gemstones. Not surprisingly, the more popular a gem, the more pages are devoted to it. For example, diamonds get eleven pages that include pictures and descriptions of some of the most famous diamonds.

The gem descriptions are broken down into five sections: Popular Gems, Gems for Collectors, Rarities for Collectors, Ornamental Stones, and Organics. This covers a wide variety of materials, which gives the reader a broad view of the…