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Review: Ruby & Sapphire: a collector's guide

Last Updated: 24th Aug 2018

By Keith Compton

Ruby & Sapphire: a collector's guide


Richard W. Hughes

What's in the book?

There are 384 pages on Rubies and Sapphires. The book is well written and like his second book, is written in Hughes's laid back style. Also, like its predecessor, the book can be read cover to cover or simply whichever chapter is of interest to you at the time.

This book is much more of a coffee table format, with numerous full page photos of people, places and even animals.

The book, published in 2014, comprises 7 chapters:

Resume - Introduction to Ruby & Sapphire;
Source - Lands of Red & Blue;
Connoisseur - A Lover's Guide;
Forensic - Gemology;
Heart - Thailand: Apex of Ruby & Sapphire;
Library - A Collector's Guide to the Literature;
Portfolio - Images of Ruby & Sapphire.

The Source - Lands of Red & Blue chapter is by far the largest (228 pages) with brief comments on the various countries and gem deposits. This chapter is littered with pages of colour photographs but is somewhat disappointing in that many of the photos (while being very good) are more suitable for a National Geographic Magazine or travel brochure. Photographs of a kangaroo in Australia or feeding an elephant in Laos, someone carrying a sack on their back walking over a rope bridge, villagers watching a black mamba in Tanzania but a few. To the collector or gemmologist, these are a distraction and hardly relevant to anything in the book.

There are however unusual photographs that are highly relevant. One 2 page photo shows two workers burning off the bluish tint of rubies. Both workers are using a technique very similar to the free-blowing of glass. The ruby is surrounded with clay/lime and rock and in turn set within a group of bricks and a fire set above it, heating the ruby. Blowing down a tube (possibly bamboo?) adjusting the heat as necessary until any blackness is removed from the ruby. Clearly the heat treatment of Rubies does not necessarily involve expensive equipment, just a few street smarts.

The chapter on Forensic - Gemology, explains what is needed to identify synthetic gems, treatments of Rubies & Sapphires and some of the country of origin characteristics.

The Collector's Guide to the Literature chapter contains a wealth of information on books on rubies, sapphires and gems in general.


This book is available from the publisher for around US $164 including shipping. at http://www.ruby-sapphire.com/ruby-sapphire-collectors-guide/index-ruby-sapphire-collectors-guide.php

This book is also available from Lithographie Inc. in the US and no doubt other sources.

Who should buy the book?

In Richard Hughes own words, "This book is a guide to provide the reader with the tools and information necessary to successfully begin collecting ruby and sapphire. It is not one of the scientific gemmology; but instead represents what I call "humanistic gemmology" - the relationship between gems and the people and places from where they come".

Clearly, this book is less academic and more of a travelogue through the various countries that produce these gems.
The book makes a good companion to Rubies & Sapphire and/or to Ruby & Sapphire - A Gemmologist's Guide, but to me, it is just that, a companion book rather than a must have book on Rubies & Sapphires.

24 August 2018

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