The Natural History Museum Book of Gemstones: A Concise Reference Guide

Gemstones have been a source of fascination for millennia, from the icy brilliance of diamond and the soft iridescence of pearl to the deep red garnets treasured by ancient Egyptians and Victorians alike. They are used for their natural beauty in jewellery, worn for protection as talismans, associated with romance and power. They are also of scientific importance, forming over billions of years and containing secrets to the inner earth.


Written by Robin Hansen, the Museum's Curator of Minerals and Gemstones, this book examines the world’s most commonly encountered gemstones, exploring their unique beauty, rarity, and durability. It reveals how these gem materials formed, where they are mined, how they are identified by their physical and optical properties, their enhancements and imitations.


Travelling through each gem’s history and use in adornment, it is filled with fascinating facts for the curious to the professional. With sumptuous colour photographs, ‘Gemstones’ is a dazzling insight into the world of the rare and valuable.

  • by Robin Hansen 
  • IBSN 9780565092245 
  • paperback 
  • 240 pages 
  • 203mm x 129mm
  • made from materials certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council 
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