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Pearl education

What book(s) or other sources do you recommend for learning about
pearls? I feel that they are even more “caveat emptor” than stones!

There used to be a TV ad here (Chicago) that said, “If you don’t
know furs, know your furrier.” So, until I really know pearls, does
anyone know a pearl supplier where I will be pretty sure to get what
I pay for?


    What book(s) or other sources do you recommend for learning
about pearls? I feel that they are even more "caveat emptor" than

GIA’s Pearl Grading Extension Class is not bad. It’s kind of
expensive for a one-day class, but you do get a lot of info and
hands-on experience. They cover a wide range from the various
species of oysters used to grow the main types to color, shape and
finish/luster. There is no prerequisite, and it’s all understandable
without any prior classes.

Their Pearl Grading Distance Education Course is even more pricey,
but you can learn pretty much everything there is to know. There’s no
hands-on with it, but the two combined does provide a very thorough
curriculum. The web site is

I’m sure there are plenty of books on the subject, but I don’t have
experience with any. Best to you in your pursuit,

James in SoFl

Although published ninety-seven years ago, there is one book that is
still regarded as the principal authority on pearls. That would be
Kunz’ and Stevenson’s “The Book of the Pearl: the History, Art,
Science, and Industry of the Queen of Gems,” published in 1908 by
The Century Company.

With 548 pages, and over 180 illustrations, The Book of the Pearl is
a classic treatise on this ancient symbol of perfection. Tiffany and
Co. Gem authority Kunz and US fisheries expert Stevenson survey the
history of pearls, their structure and form, pearl fisheries
globally, fascinating facts and lore on pearl-culture and
pearl-farming, their alleged mystical/ medicinal properties, value,
commerce, care, use, and famous examples.

The easiest way to secure a $17.46 paperback copy of this book is
through at:

fascinating facts and lore on pearl-culture and pearl-farming

Additional on the publications of George Frederick Kuhn
may be found at:

While the first edition of the book contains 25 beautifully colored
illustrations, subsequent reissues are rendered in black and white.
I guess that paperbacks and color are incompatible. But, if you
desire to have a copy of the first edition and have lots of money to
throw around go to:

Here you can find a first edition copy of the book for a mere 600
pounds sterling.

Or, you can go to:

to find a first edition for only USD 750.

Because of its great age, you will find little in this book about
cultured pearls. But then some of us view cultured pearls in the
same league as artificial or treated gems, so it is a relief to be
spared from constant harping about the wonders of the scientific

Randolph Post


Depending upon your interests I suggest R. A. Donkin’s "Beyond
Price: Pearls and Pearl-Fishing Origins to the Age of Discoveries"
it is more up to date and believe it or not more comprehensive than
Kunz and Stevenson. Saw it on for $22.00 which is a
steal. Both are worth reading.

Beyond Price:
Pearls and Pearl Fishing Origins to the Age of Discoveries
By R. A. Donkin
Media: Hardcover
Manufacturer : American Philosophical Society
Release data : 15 May, 1998

Alan Villier’s Sons of Sinbad, written in the late 1930s contains an
excellent description of pearl buying just before the natural pearl
market’s final colapse. You can get it for as little as $2.95 at

If your main interest is quality evaluation and connoisseurship my:
Secrets Of The Gem Trade; The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious
Gemstones covers all the bases.

If you are interested in a 1st edition of Kunz and Stevenson’s Book
of The Pearl, I have a copy in very good condition available for
$950.00. This is one of the most beautiful gem books ever published,
its a large folio with an art noveau style cover. Quite handsome.
doubled in price in the past five years.