Phenomenal Gems

5 / 5

Come share our fascination with the gems that display special characteristics—not the ones that lie on velvet looking beautiful because of trace elements and pigment, but the largely indistinct category, phenomenal gems, the gems that appear to do tricks. Optical “tricks” are based on the physics of light and materials. The way light moves through gems determines the patterns we see dancing before our eyes. It is as if the wonders of the world were compressed into each tiny, splendid object. How can anyone resist appreciating the quintessence of nature that may have taken millions of years to produce and thousands of people diving from fleets of ships or moving mountains to obtain?

As much as we admire the visual effects, we have long felt that the field needed systematizing. Curious about the various structures, we decided to create this book to sort the phenomena into categories, looking at the broad similarities first and the details of the special cases second. The only organization that gives a sense of appropriateness is what parses with science. For history’s sake, we include scientific names when they exist, but for ease, we describe the effects in plain terms. We hope that our arrangement of categories simplifies the work of the gem establishment and clarifies the field for the audience of gem lovers and buyers.

To discover which properties create what effects, we sought the expertise of Dr. John Emmett, the renowned physicist who has turned a practiced and discerning eye on gemology. To assure the mineralogical data, we turned to John S. White, former Curator of the National Mineral and Gem Collection, Smithsonian Institution. Many other enthusiastic friends and colleagues have shared their ideas and the treasures in their personal and professional collections.

Each phenomenon depends on three aspects of light: human vision; the physical structure of the gem; and the color, or wavelength, of the source of illumination. The parts and chapters comprise groups of gems displaying a particular set of characteristics in nature’s vast array. Of course, categories are but a means to simplify the stunning diversity of phenomena on exhibit around us. No matter how elegantly we draw distinctions, there will be those gems that show up in two or three categories.

During the thousands of years of human history, people have prized and puzzled over what phenomenal gems concealed and revealed. Before scientists discovered the causes for most of the patterns, such treasures must have appeared supernatural. They still entrance us as they blink, glow, sparkle, shimmer, and change color. Altering light, they delight our senses and stir our imaginations. Depending on their structure, all phenomenal gems absorb, refract, and reflect light in various extraordinary ways.

Discover a range of showy surprises to suit your every taste and mood. As Robin Banchik, of Crystalarium, characterizes the passion for phenomenal stones, let’s enjoy indulging “our obsession for ‘esoteric weirdness.’” Join us as we present structures one chapter at a time to show how these “gems that do tricks” perform their magic.

Phenomenal Gems
64 Pages
6" x 9" x .5"
199 grams


The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

fully satisfied, good descriptions even for professionals

Amazon Customer Jul 21, 2017

The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

Another treat to read.

David Bartolomeo Apr 24, 2017

The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

Fred Ward had a very good idea when he decided to write a book specifically dedicated to Phenomenal gemstones. It's true that other authors of excellent books about gemstones usually speak about those varieties existing in a certain number of gemstones families, but here, it's the specific objective of the book and for this reason each of these phenomenons are treated more in depth. A little book but very useful. I would recommend it as a complement of other books e.g. books of Renée Newman.

débé Nov 02, 2012

The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

A book both with interesting content and worthy of being treated as a collectible item.

The information provided is concise, accurate, in depth and yet easy to understand. recommended to anyone - to read before they start buying any phenomenal gemstones.

antoine1691 Jul 22, 2011

The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

Reading Fred and Charlotte Ward's series, Phenomenal Gems, particularly Pearls and Opals, has awakened the adventurer in me. Fred's description of his experience in the Australian opal mines brought back memories of my thrills diving in the North Sea on oil platforms. Having been an avid abalone diver all my life, I wish I had read Pearls 40 years ago. I certainly would have given more attention to saving all of the precious pearls and pearl blisters which I came across over the years. Thanks to my reading experience of the Phenomenal Gems series I am planning my next big adventure in The Outback mining opals. I highly recommend the series to both the novice and seasoned adventurer.

Richard D. Clark
Board Member of the Napa Valley Rock and Gem Club
Member of the Culver City Rock and Mineral Club

Richard D. Clark Dec 12, 2009

The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

Whereas I am not a professional, I do love things that sparkle and unusual things. This book appeals to both my fancies. How interesting to learn about these precious stones (Charlotte Ward's writing) and see the treasures vividly and captured by Fred Ward (a world-wide acclaimed photojournalist). He and his wife teamed up perfectly for this. She eloquently and factually wrote and he expertly photographed - a winning match.

This may be the closest I can come to being with these sparkling jewels in person. Nature's beauties inspire me so. I couldn't wait to give the book as gifts to my friends who love jewelry. And while you drool over these photos, check out the other gem books in their collection.

Tebtink Dec 02, 2009

The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

This book is like eye candy, at least for the lay person. I devour all of Fred Wards books. Wonderful combos of photos, history, socioeconomic issues, quality and buying info, etc.

Donna May 07, 2009