Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Gemstone Detective: Buying Gemstones and Jewellery in Sri Lanka

The Gemstone Detective is the nom de plume of Kim Rix, and this installment of Buying Gemstones and Jewellery is aimed at tourists who are traveling to Sri Lanka. This colorful and informative 100 page book was released 4th October 2018 by Filament publishing and is available in paperback and ebook formats.

For a relatively short book, it covers the basics of sourcing and buying gemstones and jewelry in Sri Lanka.  The author describes the methods and basic etiquette involved to hopefully help the tourist buyer avoid the worst and most costly pitfalls.

The layout follows a logical progression.  It begins with background and definitions.  It covers what corundum (ruby/sapphire) is, a very little bit about Mohs hardness scale, along with some mineral terms like asterism and chatoyancy. Defined terms are in bold typeface and are written for the layman.  There's a fair bit of fun factoid information included like famous sapphires in history and crystal 'meanings'.  There's not too much non-scientific crystal trivia included.  I would estimate the filler info (crystal 'meanings' and supposed properties) takes up less than 5% of the total content.

The next chapters include a very rough description of valuation and the attributes which make a stone more (or less) valuable. The options for sourcing and buying gemstones, both rough and cut stones as well as finished jewelry are written clearly and in terms that the average layman can understand.  This book is aimed firmly at the layperson. This is not an instruction manual for buying professionally or breaking into the gem trade on a wholesale level.

The discussion on treatments and enhancements for stones is worth the price of the book, honestly. (And not just for tourists to Sri Lanka! This info is good for -anyone- considering a stone purchase). 
Although the guide is slanted mostly toward the sapphire buyer, many of the Sri Lankan gemstones are included in shorter descriptions (moonstone, beryl, chrysoberyl including Alexandrite, some quartzes (amethyst), and a few others). I liked it very much that the author mentions in several different places that it's easy for the unwary to get carried away and be sold iolite as sapphire (it's emphatically not the same thing).

There is a fair bit of repetition in the chapters, but that could be intentional; to help the tourist who intends to read the salient bits which apply to their situation instead of reading it from cover to cover like a novel (or like an average reviewer ;) ).

I worked as a metal artist, goldsmith, and certified gemologist for over 16 years and I actually did learn some things from this book.  The text is also peppered with a large number of internet links which provide a good reference for the buyer.

Four stars.  If it saves just one person from the heartache of being cheated it's well worth it.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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