Top Gemmology and Gemstone Books

There are so many wonderful gemstone books to enjoy.  This post was originally named “My Five Favourite Gemmology Books”, but it was too hard to leave out excellent books.   So it is my top five with seven books listed!

Gemmology Books

Photo by J. McKercher

I must admit that I buy most of my gem books in used books store or on-line.  Alibris and Abebooks are two of my favourites for used and rare books.

Gemmology by P. Read

Photo by J. McKercher

Gemmology by Peter G. Read  3rd Edition

The Canadian Gemmological Association uses this book as its textbook, before the professional exams I suggest that every student read this book again from cover to cover.  It is very readable.  The majority of the book is dedicated to gemstone properties and methods for identifying gemstones, their treatments as well as synthetics and imitations.  There is an appendix of characteristics of common gemstones and many tables of gemstone constants.  The book covers gemmological instruments including their use and diagrams explaining how they are constructed and how they function.

Gemology by Cornelius Hurbut and Robert Kammerling

Photo by J. McKercher


Gemology by Cornelius S. Hurlbut Jr. and Robert C. Kammerling 2nd Edition is my favourite gemmology book.

This book would make a great textbook and I recommend it to my students (if they can afford it).  This book is often sold as new for over US$200.  I bought mine used on-line.


Handbook of Gemstone Identification by Richard Liddicoat

Photo by J. McKercher

Handbook of Gemstone Identification by Richard T. Liddicoat Jr. 12th Edition

This book has great colour photos of inclusions.  This book covers all the basics of gemstones and identifying them.  This book was first book published in 1947 and the latest edition is the 12th.




Gemstones Symbols of Beauty and Power by Eduard Gubelin & Franz-Xaver Erni

Photo by J McKercher


Gemstones Symbols of Beauty and Power by Eduard Gubelin and Franz-Xaver Erni.

It looks like a great coffee table book of photos, but it is so much more.   Written by gemmologist Eduard Gubelin, who created books, films, and gemmological instruments,  it has gemmological information not usually found in a pretty book with pretty photographs.


Gems Their Sources, Descriptions and Identification by Webster

Photo by J. McKercher

Gems by Michael O’Donohue 6thEdition

Photographed is the 5th edition Gems Their Sources, Descriptions and Identification, edited by Webster.  This book can sell new for as much as US$300.  The Vancouver Community College which teaches the CGA gemmology program uses both the Peter Read book and this book as textbooks.  The new 6th edition does not have the section on “How Gemstones Are Identified”, the introduction suggests the reader use the Peter Read book for that information.  Often refered to as the gemmology bible, it also doubles as a doorstop.

Smithsonian Rock and Gem Book

Photo by J. McKercher



Rock and Gem by Ronald Louis Bonewitz, a Smithsonian book published by Dorling Kindersley (DK)

Any book produced by the Smithsonian Institute is great.  Photos are wonderful.  This book also contains information on rocks and minerals that are not considered gemstones.  My only complaint is that the index is not good, it is a great book for browsing.


Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann

Photo by J. McKercher

Gemstones of the World by Walter Schumann Revised Edition

This book is great for anyone as their first book about gemstones and gemmology with beautiful photos and diagrams.  I like it because as your gemmological knowledge grows you will appreciate all the information contained in this litlle book.  I also like “Gemstones” by Cally Hall as a first gemstone book, it is another DK book with wonderful photos.  But the Schumann book has drawings of the crystal habit for each gemstone as well as spectrum descriptions and other gemstone details that will also be useful for the professional gemmologist.


Maybe I will bump into you in your local used book store!  Let me know if you have found any treasures.


Your Input(Join our poll or scroll down and leave a comment)

I plan to introduce different gemstones alphabetically.  I will start with “A” (Ammolite) and see where it leads me.  Leave a comment and let me know if you have a favourite gemstone that starts with the letter “E”.  Take the poll!  Can you name a reference to a gemstone in a song, movie or book?

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About Jen McKercher

Jennifer McKercher teaches gemmology at the Canadian Gemmological Association. A passion for gemstones drives Jen to learn as much as she can about the wonders of gemstones and how they enhance our lives.

Posted on July 5, 2011, in Gemmological Tools & Books, Gemmology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thank you for such useful information!

  2. I am from pakistan.
    I like so much ur information about gemalogy.
    Hope that u give a good perfomans in feature.
    I want to make a good gemalogist but i need your help .
    So please guid me sir g! That how will become a good gemalogist.
    I waiting your reply sir g!

    • Hello, To be a good gemmologist you need the practical and the theoretical knowledge of gemmology. Studying with Gem-A, GIA, CGA (Canadian Gemmological Association) or any other recognized gemmological association will help with your theoretical knowledge.
      Good luck, Jennifer

  3. I have more stones I need gemistones book send me email I’m live in east Africa

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