On reading “The World of Jewel Stones” by Weinstein

In my travels I decided to pick up a copy of a book called “The World of Jewel Stones” by Michael Weinstein that was published in 1958.  I seldom get books that are this old about gemstones because they really are only of historical interest.  But in this case I had run into an important and famous internet site that referenced information from this encyclopedic tome about color in tourmaline.  The information was incorrect unfortunately, but it had sparked an interest in knowing what kind of setting this book had made for tourmaline in general.

Well after reading many pages of sometimes overly detailed information about diamonds,  (The thickness of an alluvial gravel deposit in a remote area of Brazil, the Cullinan diamond had a flaw, etc.),  I finally got to a chapter labeled Topaz, Tourmaline, Peridot and Zircon.  The chapter was twelve pages long and of that, three pages were devoted to tourmaline.  Three pages that were either incorrect or so incomplete that they should not have been included in the attempt to make this book more than a personal collection of facts about diamonds.  Now I am not saying that the author does not have more personal facts about gemstones other than diamond sprinkled threw out the book,  but he obviously did not research tourmaline except for the basic facts that can be gotten out of a mineralogy textbook.

Now it is disappointing that the book failed with tourmaline, but it is old, dated and I should let an old horse die without grumping.  Well its spirit has not died.  New experts have come forward to write about tourmaline, now that it has become a gemstone of substance, with the discovery and popularization of Paraiba and the cuprian buzz.  People that have made their name in diamonds and “precious” gemstones.  People that never stooped to the level of “semi precious” tourmaline in the past, but now proclaim their years of study and interest.  Well they get a lot wrong and should not be padding their new efforts to teach the world about gemstones with information on tourmaline, when they should stick to what they know or at least research well.  The complex tourmaline world is fraught with danger for great sounding generalized statements that can have exceptions and imitations.


About Bruce Fry

I was born in Summit, NJ in 1947 and graduated from Summit High School in 1966. I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1970 and after spending another year in graduate school, I left to see the world of Brazil. After spending some more time discovering myself, I ended up working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 32 years as an Air Quality Engineer in the Department of Environmental Protection. I retired in 2007 and took up faceting gemstones again after a long hiatus that reached back to my twenties. I had started cutting cabochons when I was 13 and bought my first faceting machine when I was 15, but ran out of money and time until I retired. My great love in gemology is tourmaline and the collection presented here represents my effort to get as much beauty and variety in the colors of tourmaline as I can. I was particularly lucky in being able to get unheated cuprian tourmaline before copper was discovered in gem grade tourmaline from Mozambique.
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