Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

Vladimir Bukanov. Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia



The stable interest of people to decorations and their accumulation with the aim of wealth concentration and as symbols of power formed the basis of gemology that was brought into existence in the early of the 20th cent. Gemology (from Latin "gemma" - a carved adornment and Gk. "logos"- doctrine) is a science about decorative stuffas used in jewelry, stone-carving and applied arts. It studies both raw materials and cut stones, including man-made ones. Besides, gemology deals with methods of diagnostics and evaluation of stones, illuminates problems of jewelry manufacturing and marketing. Naturally its lexicon was formed at the interfaces among trade, jeweler's art and science. The terminology was correspondingly adopted from the cent.-old history of the mankind knowledge of gemstones. It accounts for polysemantic nature of gemological terms and their emphasis either on color, as the defining sign of a stone value, or on its similarity with more precious gems. The role of local names, being retained for a long time even if some transformations took place, is especially important here. In addition, there is a lot of terms borrowed from more old natural sciences, such as mineralogy, petrography, biology, applied and jeweler's arts. In this connection, names of gemological objects feature unsystematic character. As the science was developed, the lexicon underwent modifications, new terms appeared, and old ones disappeared or became sometimes incomprehensible. In 1991, in an effort to straighten out the terminology "The International Confederation of Jewelry, Silverware, Diamonds, Pearls, and Stones" (CIBJO) initiated attempts to set up a nomenclature of commercial names of main jewelry stones, natural organic matters and artificial products. Unfortunately, these recommendations concern a minor list of terms and are poorly known in Russia. The lexicon of gemology permanently enriches, modern terms being added through increase in number of jewelry materials as of natural origin so artificial ones. Hence correct understanding and usage of gemological terms remain an actual problem and the book could be considered as one of the most complete dictionary of gemstones terms.

The information presented in the dictionary may be useful for readers, having quite different background - from those who are merely interested in gemstones to specialists in the fields of gemology, mineralogy, art and geology. This encyclopedic work is the major reference book for everybody interested in gemstones. Gemologists can get information on sources of raw materials of precious stones and on decorative properties of jewelry and ornamental stones. At the same time they will become acquainted with a variety of gem imitations, with much modern synthetic stuff. These data may help geologists to establish and step up production of precious stones, stimulating more effective mining, or quarrying of the deposits. Descriptions of occurrences of new kinds of gemstones in a foreign country are useful for their search, prospecting and exploration in a fatherland. Art critics can find here numerous examples of application of jewelry and ornamental stones to unique works of art. Of special interest is the gemochronological scale where the sequence of mastering of precious stones during the mankind history is reflected. On the whole, all aforesaid allows considering the dictionary to be useful and its challenge to describe jewelry-ornamental stones, known by now, to be actual. The same may be said about explanation of etymology of the terms. Information about the development of gemology in Russia and insights into its terminology will be interesting for foreign readers. Particular attention should be given to the refinement of national appurtenance of the deposits that is of special interest after the U.S.S.R. disintegration. It is worthy of note, too, that the mere enumeration of gemstones is necessary today, as a number of these unique natural phenomena or creations, reserves of which are limited and can not be reproduced, may soon enter a special "Red Book" created by analogy with one that fixes dying out species of fauna and flora.

The Russian Gemstone Encyclopedia describes over 500 types and 2220 varieties of gems, gemstones, colored ornamental stones, organic and man-made jewelry materials with 440 photos, providing 8500 names and synonyms. Some 6000 deposits and of gemstones are mentioned in the text by way of illustration. A localities list over 1500 for Russia, and 14 adjacent countries is given in one of the appendices. Such an inventory of gemstone deposits in Russia and bordering countries, as of the end of the 20th century, is published first time ever and expected to be a valuable reference tool for the gemological community.

The Encyclopedia is based on the author's Russian language Dictionary of Gemology: Gemstones, which was published in 2001 and covered 6000 terms. The

Dictionary, awarded Diploma of the Russian Mineralogical Society in 2003, was enlarged into an illustrated encyclopedia on suggestion of its scientific editor professor A.G. Bulach and James E. Shigley, Ph.D., Director of the Gemological Institute of America.

The opening chapter of Encyclopedia deals with history of gemology in the world and Russia. Further chapters cover individually jewelry, ornamental, and collector gemstones, subdivided by the degree of their renown. Separate chapters cover organic materials, man-made analogs of gemstones, synthetic and artificial jewelry products. This approach makes it possible to cover the entire range of gemological items used in jewelry. In describing gemstones, emphasis is put on their decorative properties, including coloring and optical effects, as well as history of gemstone processing and jewelry applications. Also provided are examples of best known gemstone deposits, unique finds, largest faceted gems, jewelry items and stone carvings in treasuries and museums of the world. Entries on many gemstones contain information on quality improvement, imitations, and man-made analogues. Much attention is given to the nomenclature of gems, gemstones, and ornamental materials, with the view to refine the terminology and to explain obsolete and antiquated names. This was deemed necessary because the lexicon of gemology was made up by terms coming from natural sciences, jewelry trade, commerce, handicrafts, as well as by numerous local names which remain largely unknown to many in the gemological community. Legends, popular beliefs, and superstitions related to gemstones are reviewed, for many gems and stones are popular amulets and charms or official symbols of cities and countries.

The tables of appendices list over 850 large crystals of gemstones including nuggets of gold, as well as unique cut gems, including some 500 diamonds, 100 sapphires and rubies, 165 beryls, and other gemstones. Also listed are commercial names of gemstone-quality varieties of quartz, jades, cat's-eye stones, and natural resins. Provided are tables of refraction and other optical parameters of gemstones, as well as tables of nonmetric units of weight and length for precious stones. Of interest for a wide range of readers is the Gemstone Chronology showing history of gemstone discovery and processing from antiquity to the present day. The general and additional indexes facilitate the search for the needed information in the text.

The Encyclopedia is expected to provide new inputs to all those interested in gemstones. Gemologists can be attracted by information on ornamental and decorative characteristics and sources of gemstones, state-of-the-art technologies of gemstone imitation, and various man-made materials. Geologists and mineralogists will find the information useful in prospecting of gemstone occurrences, comprehensive use of mineral deposits, and search for gemstone varieties so far unknown in their countries. Art critics and jewelers will be provided numerous examples of application of gemstones in unique masterpieces and works of art.