Rare Gemstones

How to Identify, Evaluate and Care for Unusual Gems



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Rare Gemstones provides concise, interesting and practical details on uncommon gems that are being used by designers to create distinctive jewelry. It not only lists the identification properties of the gems, but tells you where they are found, how they are used, why they are unique, how they are priced, and how to care for them. High quality photos show the different colors and varieties of each gem and give you ideas on how each can be used creatively in jewelry. Written in a succinct, user-friendly style, Rare Gemstones is a companion book to Newman’s Gemstone Buying Guide and an ideal reference for jewelers, sales associates, appraisers, gem collectors, gemology students, gem dealers and consumers.

Full Title: Rare Gemstones: How to Identify, Evaluate and Care for Unusual Gems   

Author: Renée Newman

Publisher: International Jewelry Publications

ISBN-13: 978-0-929975-46-7

$19.95, Trade paperback, 482 photos, 137 pages, 6" x 9"

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  Focuses on rare and unusual gems. As a result, it provides more up-to-date information and photos of these stones than you will find in other general gemstone books.

  Provides retail price ranges for the gems.

  Has 482 photos, a high percentage of which show the gems mounted in jewelry, rather than only loose.

  Includes more information on quality evaluation than most other general gemstone guides.

  Provides detailed treatment information about the gems along with the identification data.  


Rare Gemstones is a fascinating insight into the latest and more unusual gemstones that are now finding their way into designer jewellery.

The book covers rare gems that are mounted in jewellery as well as some that are used only very occasionally based on the opinions and usage of a range of jewellers. From their suggestions, over 60 of the lesser-used gem materials have been selected, documented and presented in a highly visual way. Some of the stones covered have limited use due to hardness or durability factors, but these limitations are all addressed in the various sections. Where this book differs from others is in the extensive use of photographs of rough, cut and fashioned gemstones, as well as gem-set jewellery, showing that not only can these rare gemstones be used in various settings, but also that they are available today. Rough crystals and matrix are also illustrated in different settings including, for example, wrapped cobaltocalcite pendants and earrings, amongst others.

The variety of stones covered ranges from those familiar to most readers to the rare and unusual. Apatite, calcite, moldavite and obsidian are listed alongside the less well-known stones such as gaspéite, psilomelane and jeremejevite – stones normally reserved for small notes in more expensive texts, often without the photographs that this book makes good use of. Although not as widely known, these gemstones are given the same consideration and respect that the more ‘usual’ gemstones in expensive jewellery are afforded, providing a valuable insight into what can be done when jewelers think outside of the box.

The information supplied on each stone is comprehensive. The author gives pronunciations of the names of stones, along with all the usual gemmological information such as chemical formula, refractive index, specific gravity and crystal system. Localities are mentioned where considered important or noteworthy, along with historical context showing that these ‘rare gems’ have been known through history, even if not utilized. Treatments are also covered either in the initial constants area for each stone, or in the main body of text, along with the care and attention necessary to avoid damage to these more unusual gemstones. In total, the information given in this book is very well presented, easily readable and accurate, ensuring an excellent point of reference in an area all too often overlooked.

Whether a newcomer to the world of gemmology or an experienced collector, this volume has something for everyone and is highly recommended.

Gems & Jewellery, published by Gem A (British Gemmological Association)  


Rare Gemstones makes a tidy addition to Renee's previous works, including Exotic Gems volumes 1 and 2. Covering 40-plus gemstones from Andalusite to Zultanite, plus 19 more gems less frequently found in jewelry, the book breaks down the properties, variations, and retail price of each gemstone. The back of the book features tips for storing, setting, and cleaning your jewelry, and a bibliography and list of resources complete the package. Even if you're not in the market for rare gems, this book features hundreds of full-color photos of astonishing stone formations and the mouth-watering fine jewelry made with them. Can you say inspiration? 

Stacy, Bead & Button Magazine        

I wish all of the books that appraisers need to keep on our reference shelves were just like this one. Rare Gemstones is a treasure. Like all of Renee Newman’s books, it is impeccably organized, beautiful and complete. This book is intended to be the companion to Renee’s book The Gemstone Buying Guide. Whereas that book includes the gemstones more frequently seen in fine jewelry, Rare Gemstones reviews, well, more rare gemstones. For appraisers familiar with the GIA “B Chart,” you will immediately recognize many of these stones. Although they may be rare, they may not seem exceptional to NAJA appraisers. But I assure you, there are some curios in here. For example, as I flip through the pages, I can say with certainty that I’ve never seen Rainbow calcite, Star enstatite, or Cadmium hemimorphite. . .

The front and back covers of Rare Gems are carpeted with high quality, high gloss, full color photographs of gemstones, laid out by color, dark to light. The layout and all aspects of this book were of the highest quality. Each gemstone is concisely but thoroughly explained. The book contains the pronunciation, chemical composition, RI, Hardness, SG, crystal system, optic character, toughness, treatments, and more, in chart form, for each stone.

Then there are one to seven paragraphs written about each stone. That information includes history, quality factors, typical uses and even retail prices. Best of all, there are many photographs, including uncut specimens, the faceted gemstone, possible colors that it is found in, high and low quality examples, and the gem set in jewelry. Seeing the photographs is almost like holding the stone. When I explore a stone in this book, I believe I really get to know it.

Additional sections in Rare Gemstones include; "How to Care for Rare and Unusual Gems," and "Where to Find an Appraiser." The appendix includes the expected items, for example; main sources of information for the identification data, and identification terms explained It also has some unexpected information including; lists the traditional birthstones established in 1912, gemstones in the order of their descending Mohs hardness, gemstones in the order of their descending refractive index, and gemstones in the order of their descending density. Probably the most beneficial aspect of Rare Gems for the appraiser is having all of this information put together in one affordable, easy to understand book, especially considering the newness of the information. For instance there is Zultanite, not just a diaspore anymore. It’s a gem quality, color-change, rare and desirable stone being heavily marketed. The thorough and au courant nature of this book makes it my only reference for this gemstone. I recommend that all appraisers buy this book. Become familiar with it. When you need it, the information will be on your bookshelf ready to help you figure out that rare stone, or explain it to your client. Everyone wins.

Kim Piracci, GG, The Jewelry Appraiser, published by the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers 

Designed as a companion to Renée Newman’s Gemstone Buying Guide and also being a more concise, general book, this new publication boasts more colour photographs than any of her previous books – 482 to be exact. Just open the cover for a sneak preview!

Information about lesser known and rare gemstones has been limited in the past and Newman explains that unique gems are now more than ever sought after, for their metaphysical properties and for their relative affordability compared to diamonds. The gemstones in the book were selected after consultation with professionals in the gem and jewellery industry and are divided into two sections. “Rare Gems Used in Jewelry” (the bulk of the book) and “Rare Gems Sometimes Used in Jewelry.” . . .   

A useful inclusion in this book compared to other gem books are general retail price ranges for the gems. Newman also suggests which stones could become rarer – increasing their value.

  There are few gems that you could comment that it doesn’t matter from an appraisal standpoint whether you confuse the two, but this is true of marcasite and pyrite – they each have the same chemical composition, but a different crystal structure. There are other fascinating facts about these two gems to be gleaned from their discussion.

Newman emphasizes the importance of t transparency in evaluating these rare gemstones and also discusses treatments.

 Beginning with “Rare Gems Used in Jewelry”, one immediately notes the benefit of seeing rare gems not normally seen mounted in jewellery – the first one being andalusite with its strong pleochroism.

Consistent with Newman’s unique style, you will be amazed about interesting facts such as the uses of apatite (also known as hydroxylapatite) and fluorite; similarly the unlikely gemstone that is the state gem of California. You will discover which gemstone is ground and used as American Indian face paint.

True to the readable style Newman adopts, definitions of gemmological terms are often inbuilt.

Unusual properties of the gems are discussed, such as the ability of gem silica chrysocolla to dehydrated and rehydrate, a property known as “hydrophane.” Tenebrescence is a unique property possessed by hackmanite.

All the gemstones in this book as well as all those in the “Gemstone Buying Guide" are listed in descending order of hardness, with taaffeite being the hardest of the rare gems in the book.

This compact informative little book inspires one to look at different gemstones that one would not normally have considered as jewellery items and reassures you, that with the right care (which is discussed in detail), they can be enjoyed just as much as fragile gems that are already widely accepted, such as pearls and amber. 

The book would be invaluable to gemmology students studying “Lesser Known Gemstones” and to anyone interested in rare gemstones.

Carol Resnick, Australian Gemmologist 

Table of Contents



How the Gems Were Selected for This Book

How This Book Differs from Other Gem Books

Rare Gemstones Used in Jewelry






Bixbite (Red Beryl)






Diaspore (Zultanite)


    Chrome Diopside


Enstatite & Bronzite





Idocrase, see vesuvianite


Larimar (Pectolite)




Natural Glass



Pectolite, see larimar





Red beryl, see bixbite





Seraphinite (Clinochlore)



Sphene (Titanite)


Titanite, see sphene


Vesuvianite (Idocrase)


Zultanite, see diaspore

Rare Gemstones Sometimes Used in Jewelry




















How to Care for Rare & Unusual Gems

Storing Your Jewelry

Which Gemstones Are the Most Durable?

Choosing a Setting for Fragile Gemstones

How to Clean Fragile Gemstones

Miscellaneous Tips

Where to Find a Jewelry Appraiser


Main Sources of Information for the Identification Data; Birthstones

Gemstone Identification Terms Explained

Gemstones in the Order of Their Descending Mohs Hardness

Gemstones in the Order of Their Descending Refractive Index

Gemstones in the Order of Their Descending Density (Specific Gravity)



Buy Rare Gemstones

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Diamonds: Their History, Sources, Qualities and Benefits

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Gemstone Buying Guide, Details & Reviews

Gem & Jewelry Pocket Guide, Details & Reviews

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Jewelry Handbook, Details & Reviews

Ruby Sapphire & Emerald Buying Guide, Details & Reviews

Osteoporosis Prevention, Details & Reviews

Exotic Gems, Volume 1, Details & Reviews

Exotic Gems, Volume 2, Details & Reviews

Exotic Gems, Volume 3, Details & Reviews

Exotic Gems, Volume 4, Details & Reviews

Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Silver & Other Jewelry Metals, Detail & Reviews