Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

Vladimir Bukanov. Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia


Structure of the Encyclopedia

The term “gemstone” covers both transparent and opaque jewelry minerals, as well as ornamental stones presented by rocks. All of them are closely related and in consequence are treated together. Numerous handbooks (including Russian ones) are taken into consideration. Only fundamental works are cited in the reference list. The introductory chapters contain the review on the history of the jewelry art and gemology, enumeration of the considered jewelry-ornamental materials and presentment of the order of their description. The descriptive part consists of more than 147 entries, which are grouped in 6 chapters. In the chapter where the best-known gemstones are described, since diamond they are brought in the order of their importance. In the same way organic gemstones and synthetic gemstones are described whereas in other chapters the alphabetic order of a statement is accepted. Etymology of the names of jewelry-ornamental materials is given in the text and 25 appendixes. Terms of jewelry, art criticism and geology entering in their own handbooks are excluded here.

In line with the adopted order of group description of materials given, for instance, in the entry amphiboles are all minerals of this group that show properties of gemstone or occur as inclusions in gemstones. Garnets, quartz, pyroxenes, feldspars, zeolites, resins, etc. are described in the same manner. However, the most popular representatives of these groups are discussed separately. For example, emerald is singled out of the beryl group, jadeite and diopside – of pyroxenes and so on. For purposes of convenience attributes it may be set after a noun usually given in singular, except for the most general locutions of the types: rock crystal, or alkaline feldspars and fossil coals etc. Different meanings of one term are distinguished in the text with Arabic numerals. For more detailed discussion of a term, a reader may be referred by a mark “See” to entries and appendixes offering supplementary information. The words which are repeated many times in the text are given as contractions (see the list of abbreviations). Names and formulas of minerals are written, with few exceptions, after the book by “Strunz Mineralogical Tables” 9th ed. (Strunz, H. & Nickel, E.H., 2001). Minerals’ systematic corresponds to that one given in the Germany journal “Lapis” (N°2-3, 1995). It includes bioorganic compounds and is more often used in gemological works. The following editions were considered in the description of etymology of the names: “Glossary of Obsolete Mineral Names” (P. Bayliss, 2000), “Mineral Names. What do they mean?” (R. S. Mitchell, 1979), “Encyclopedia of Mineral Names” (W.H. Blackburn, W.H. Dennen, P.I. Russel, 1997), “Dictionary of Petrology” (S.I. Tomkeieff, 1983), “Dictionary of Gemmology” (P.G. Read, 1982), “Lexikon der Mineralogie” (G. Strubel, S.H. Zimmer, 1982), “Mineralogical Dictionary” (E.K. Lazarenko, O.M. Vynar, 1975), “Dictionary of Gems and Gemology” (R.M. Shipley, 1974), “Glossary of geology” (M. Gary, R. MacAfee Jr., C.L. Wolf, 1972).

Gemstone properties are characterized in the following way: hardness is given according the Mohs scale (from 1 to 10) adopted in mineralogy. Other units of measurement are presented in the SI system, including weight – in kg. and density – in gm./cm3. Geographic names were checked against “English-Russian and Russian-English Geographical Dictionary” 2nd ed. by M.V. Gorskaya, 1994, and the index in “Geographic Titles in Mineralogy” by A.A. Evseev, 2000, also Microsoft ENCARTA Interactive World Atlas, 2001. The schedule of optical properties of gemstones (App. 20) and the schedule of units of measurement used in gemology (App.21), as well as the indexes of optical effects of gemstones (App.22), of unique gemstones, cut or carved gems and jeweler’s work of art (App. 23) and General index are given in the Encyclopedia as the reference materials. For convenience of using, every name of mineral is provided with an enumeration of pages of its mention in the Encyclopedia, pages of the basic description being marked with bold type. As already noted, terms which are described in the separate entries are written in bold type in the other entries – e.g. topaz; synonyms mentioned in the text are italicized – topazolite. The most important optical effects are printed in bold italics – aventurescence and so on. Proper names of unique cut stones and jeweler’s work of art are given in inverted commas. When we deal with reiterating nouns, such as stone, for instance, accompanied with attributes, only these attributes are further given – Amazon ~, etc. When synonyms are numerous, they are grouped together by their coloration or place of occurrence.

All the entries describing jewelry-ornamental materials are composed in accordance with the unique scheme. Subsequent to English mineral names, those ones in German, French and Russian are given. Then, there is the information on the origin of the name and data about the composition and properties of the material: mineral formula of mineral, crystal system; mineral composition and genesis for rocks. Of physical properties only the most important characteristics are given: hardness, density, luster, and cleavage. The following main sections are determined for the most known gemstones: “Composition & Properties”, “Deposits”, “Quality improvement”, “Unique findings”, “Cut Gems”, “Famous stones”, “Legends”, “Synthesis”, “Similar Gemstones and Imitations”. Less known or rare in occurrence gemstones are described according the same scheme but in a condensed way. An entry usually contains a general characteristics of a jewelry-ornamental material, describes a degree of transparency, features of luster, color and its tints, optical effects, availability of cleavage, as well as inherent inclusions. There are also indicated the forms of occurrence and typical morphology of crystals illustrated sometimes in figures. Examples of more than 40 types of the most important optical effects are given in the descriptions of gemological properties. Among them there are asterism, aventurescence, chatoyancy, alexandrite effect and different manifestations of play of color – labradorescence, adularescence, opales- cence, etc.

The section “Deposits” provides information on basic types of their genesis illustrated with examples related to concrete geographical locations that often determine a name of gemstone, its varieties or synonyms. The description of deposits is carried out in the following order: Russia, the republics of the former U.S.S.R., Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, Australia and America. Each country or continent is viewed from West to East and from North to South. A localities list over 1500 for Rusia and 14 agjacen countries is given in one of the appendices (App. 24). The description of the widespread gemstones is supplemented with data on findings of unique crystals that are demonstrated in tables. Further there is as complete as possible list of synonyms with their etymology. The exception is names of varieties already mentioned in the text, the varieties of their spelling being given in brackets. At a significant amount of synonyms they are taken out in the appendixes. This is the situation for the commercial names of quartz (App. 13), jades and their imitations (App. 16-17), natural resins (App. 18). When these unique crystals are numerous, their names are compiled in appendixes, as it may be illustrated by the examples of diamond, beryl, emerald, topaz, sapphire and ruby. In the section “Synonyms”, alongside with them, are resulted also versions and their etymology. The section “Quality Improvement” offers examples of the known methods of transformation of gemstone color. In parallel with traditional techniques of coloring by impregnation with dyes and annealing, are used various kinds of irradiation (X-ray, alpha- beta-, gamma-, neutron irradiation), diffusive treatment of surfaces or putting film covers on them. The section “Cut Gems” deals with the problems of utilization of materials in the jewelry art. There are examples of unique jeweler’s work of art preserved in museum collections. When these unique cut gems are numerous their names are compiled in appendixes, as it may be illustrated by the examples of diamond and brilliant, beryl, emerald, topaz, sapphire and ruby. The section “Synthesis” information of artificial production of jewelry-ornamental material, names of synthetic material and their application in jewelry art are discussed in. The section “Similar Gemstones and Imitations” is dedicated to the enumeration of materials similar in appearance. Sometimes there is a reason for formation of synonyms that could raise a price of stone. For this purpose quartz may be called Marmarosch diamond, or rauchtopas, dioptasecopper emerald, pyriteAlpine diamond, corundumoriental diamond, fluoritefalse emerald, etc. There is a list of gemstones or synthetic materials used as imitations here, too. In conclusion, legends, superstitions and notions about popular gemstones as talismans, amulets and Zodiacal stones are briefly presented. Appendix 19 demonstrates the Gemstone Chronology composed by the author. The scale allows to insight into the history of mastering of gemstone, to follow the development of methods of their cut and synthesis.

Contractions and abbreviations used in the Encyclopedia are given on the separate page.