I have been requested to post the list of books from which I collect the information for most of these pages. The following is a partial list of my library of mineral and gemstone books collected over many years. These are the references I use the most, although I do have others. I have supplied the ISBN number where possible, and the price I paid for the book, but a few have been owned for 20 years, and I am sure they maybe out-of-print and/or more expensive now.

I also included a scanned image of the front cover in case you, like me, remembers the cover better than the title. Keep in mind covers sometimes change too.

The question arrises, what is the ultimate beginners book? Humm, I have two favorites along mineralogy lines, and one favorite for gemstones. My favorite mineralogy books are "Minerals of the World", and "Minerals,Identifying, classifying, and Collecting Them". I lean a bit toward good photos (duh!), and these are good, relatively inexpensive books with really quality photographs. The "Audubon" book is probably the most comprehensive for physical property data, and comes in a close second.

In the gemstone arena, there is only one: "Gemstones of the World", excellent photos and good physical data. I have loaned out at least three copies of the book and never got them back. (It must be good, no you can't borrow my last copy ... get your own!)

The listing is in no particular order!

Title: Minerals of the World

Authors: Walter Schumann

Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., New York 1992

ISBN: 0-8069-8570-4

List Price: $19.95

Size: 5.25" x 8"

Pages: 224

Comments: The minerals are arranged by Streak and then hardness. The photographs are clean an well done. The information is typically done in about 1/3 of a page with most pertinent mineralogical data supplied. Environmental data is perhaps the weakest. There are often two or more photo examples per mineral.

There are just over 500 minerals identified. Looking up minerals requires extensive use of the index unless you know the streak color and hardness.

Top of page

Title: Gemstones of the World

Authors: Walter Schumann

Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., New York 1977

ISBN: 0-8069-3088-8

List Price: $24.95

Size: 5.25" x 8"

Pages: 256

Comments: The gemstones are not organized in any particular way. (Maybe by value?) The information provided is excellent and the photographs offer several good images of each material. There are well over 1000 photos of different specimens and all are well lighted and clear.

Each material averages about 1/2- 1.5 pages of written information. There is no price or value information provided except a general reference to values within a series of like materials.

Top of page

Title: Rocks and Minerals

Authors: Chris Pellant

Publisher: Eyewitness Handbooks
Dorling Kindersley Inc. New York 1992

ISBN: 1-56458-061-x

List Price: $17.95

Size: 5.75" x 8.5"

Pages: 255

Comments: The minerals are arranged by their chemistry, native elements, oxides, sulfides, carbonates, etc. Once into a category there appears to be no rhyme nor reason as to the ordering. This book too is best used via the index.The photos are clear and often have annotations pointing out additional features. There is usually only one example per material.

There are about 500 minerals covered in the book. The collection includes a variety of rock types at the end. A diagnostic test is added for each mineral. It makes a reasonable field guide for identification, but very weak in locals and historical data.

Title: Gem Stones

Authors: Cally Hall

Publisher: Eyewitness Handbooks
Dorling Kindersley Inc. New York 1994

ISBN: 1-56458-498-4

List Price: $17.95

Size: 5.75" x 8.5"

Pages: 160

Comments: Page 38 contains a color key which is somewhat useful for indexing later descriptions. The section on Cut stones is in no particular order, and once again the index is needed to find most things quickly. The photos are good and most materials have more than one example. The book covers about 130 varieties of gemstones.

No value information is supplied, not even within groups. Photos contain many labels and comments.

Title: The Encyclopedia of Gemstones and Minerals

Authors: Martin Holden

Publisher: Michael Friedman Publishing Company, Inc.

ISBN: 0-8160-2177-5

List Price: $45.00

Size: 9" x 12"

Pages: 303

Comments: The minerals are arranged alphabetically. They are easy to look up by name. Mineral physical data is given in column sides, and the text is very good at providing historical information and local information.

There is typically one photograph per mineral type, and they are excellent, photo quality and mineral quality. There are also crystal drawings for many of the specimens showing a favorite habit. I believe the book is excellent, and interesting reading, although I would like to see additional sample photos for each species described.

The book covers about 225 different minerals.This is a book that rarely requires the index to find information.

Title: The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals

Authors: Charles W. Chesterman

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York

ISBN: 0-394-50269-8

List Price: $19.95

Size: 4" x7.5"

Pages: 850

Comments: The minerals are arranged photographically by color, then cross indexed to their data, which is arranged by chemical grouping. The photos are above average but not top quality. There are many samples of the same mineral, but typically not on the same page since they are sorted by color.

The mineral physical data is excellent and well organized. There is nice additional information that describes the origin of most mineral names. The environmental data is excellent, but associate minerals is typically drawn out over too much of the page.

The book is most useful via the index, but can be navigated by the color photos (almost 800) in many cases. There is a section of color photos on gemstones, but not sufficient to be a complete gemstone guide.

Top of page

Title: Minerals,Identifying, classifying, and Collecting Them

Authors: Rupert Hochleitner

Publisher: Barron's Education Series inc. 1994

ISBN: 0-8120-1777-3

List Price: $13.95

Size: 5.5" x 8.5"

Pages: 236

Comments: This is a great book with the best photography that I have yet seen. The photos are clear and sharp (although many are micromount specimens), and there are sometimes more than one photo per species. The mineral physical information is brief but adequate.

The book contains no historical data or interesting tidbits, it contains the most important physical data and a good photo. It, like some of the others, is organized by streak color, so it is better used as a field guide. To get maximum value you will use the index more often than not.

There are more than 500 color photos and another 300+ crystal line drawings. The value is exceptional for the money.

Top of page

Title: Minerals & Gemstones of the World

Authors: G. Brocardo

Publisher: David & Charles Book, 1994

ISBN: 0-7153-0197-7

List Price: $14.95

Size: 4.75" x 8.25"

Pages: 215

Comments: One photo per specimen, but the quality is generally good. There is interesting environmental data about each sample, but the general physical data is not easy to understand.

The physical data is present for each sample but in the form of a large table with iconic symbols representing the values. It requires constant cross referencing with the iconic legend to understand the information. In all there are some 80 icons with different meaning. Harness and specific gravity are easy to read, but color is not.

About the best feature of the book is that it contains some interesting European materials not always found in other books.

Title: Mineral Reference Manual

Authors: Ernest H. Nickel Monte C Nichols

Publisher: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1991

ISBN: 0-442-00344-7

List Price: $16.95

Size: 6" x 9"

Pages: 250

Comments: An alphabetical list of minerals that has minimal physical information and is cross referenced to one or more mineralogical journals or magazines. It contains the typical information like chemical formulae, crystallography, hardness and specific gravity.

It is designed to be an up-to-date record of new minerals, with just enough information to aid in their possible diagnostics. It contains NO photographs of any variety, it is predominantly text only, although there are very rare crystal habit images for selected samples.

There are more than 3500 minerals listed, typically about 15 per page, with very short summaries of information.

Title: The Encyclopedia of Minerals and Gemstones

Authors: Michael O'Donoghue

Publisher: Orbis Publishing Ltd.,London 1976

ISBN: 399-11753-9

List Price: $22.50

Size: 9" x 12"

Pages: 304

Comments: This book is likely out of print now. The first half of the book is a fundamental text on geology with some information on gemstones and polishing. It is organized around the idea that the reader is a collector.

The second half of the book is a listing of minerals organized by chemistry. There are many small photos that are of good quality , but not one for each listing.

The mineralogical data is not complete for every specimen, but it has the formulae, name, and some additional data. One good feature is a "very short" line that describes methods to clean specimens for display.

As with most of the books, you will spend most of your time in the index tracking down specimen information. There are several well organized tables of physical properties in the appendix of the book.

Title: Encyclopedia of Minerals 2nd Edition

Authors: Willard L. Roberts - Thomas J. Campbell - George R. Rapp Jr.

Publisher: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1990
This edition: Chapman & Hall, New York

ISBN: 0-412-07831-7

List Price: $125

Size: 8.75" x 11.25"

Pages: 980

Comments: Considered by many to be the bible of mineralogy. The book contains an alphabetical listing of more than 3000 minerals with more than 240 color photos. The images are excellent quality, and many rare minerals are pictured. Many are miniatures or micros.

There is less photo coverage of standard specimens and more images are rare or new materials. The physical property data is good but not as comprehensive as it could be.

Every entry does have one or more references for additional data, and this is excellent. The book is alphabetical with all images located in a central color section and referenced by number. It is easy to find a material by name. The index need rarely be used.

Title: A guide to Minerals, Rocks and Fossils

Authors: W.R. Hamilton, A.R. Woolley, A.C. Bishop

Publisher: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited 1974

ISBN: none listed

List Price: $4.98

Size: 5" x 7.75"

Pages: 320

Comments: Probably out of print too This book is divided into three parts, with minerals, rocks and fossils. There are about 220 minerals all with photos, about 90 rocks types with photos, and some 300 fossils with photos.

The minerals are organized by chemical type, oxides, sulfides, etc. The photos are acceptable quality, but not remarkable. The information is given on about 1/2 page per material, and contains the basic physical properties and little about occurrence. It contains almost no associated mineral information.

The section on rocks may actually be more informative with reasonable photos, and small enhancing drawings providing additional information.


Title: Simon & Schuster's Guide to Rocks and Minerals

Authors: Martin Prinz, George Harlow, Joseph Peters

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc., N.Y. 1977-1978

ISBN: 0-671-24417-5

List Price: $12.95

Size: 4.5" x 7.5"

Pages: 607

Comments: Newer versions available. Organized by chemical composition. Photos are above average typically two minerals per page. Only one photo of each mineral type.

Good supply of typical mineral data, with a drawing of crystal structure for each mineral. Includes a section of information called "USES" which talks about the commercial utilization of the mineral or elements forming the mineral.

About 2/3 of book is dedicated to minerals and 1/3 to rocks. 400+ minerals and about 100 rocks. The rock photos are excellent.

Title: Simon & Schuster's Guide to Gems & Precious Stones

Authors: Kennie Lyman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc., N.Y. 1984

ISBN: 0-671-60430-9

List Price: $14.00

Size: 4.5" x 7.5"

Pages: 384

Comments: Newer versions probably available. Gems are not organized in any particular order (a guess to the authors organiization might be by perceived value?) Photos are good for gemstones, and there are often two or more for any given material.

The physical property data takes up about 1 page on average for a mineral type, and then often several more pages describing characteristics of type members. Data includes optical properties.

Synthetics are covered at the rear of the book. 450 color photos and more than 100 gemstone materials are covered.

Good value forthe price!

Top of page   Minerals Page   Gemstone Page