Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

The diamond bible

A comprehensive new book from gemology expert Renée Newman covers every facet of this beloved gem, making it a perfect read for newcomers and veterans alike.

By Sonia Esther Soltani
Image: Crevoshay Studio

Gemologist Renée Newman is well-known in the trade for her practical handbooks. Her manuals on how to buy gemstones, pearls and diamond rings are classic references for industry members and keen collectors. Her latest publication is Diamonds: Their History, Sources, Qualities and Benefits, and it would not be hyperbole to call this book the bible for diamond knowledge. The coffee-table-size volume takes the reader on a fascinating journey covering the symbolic power of diamonds through the ages, the various mining levels, provenance, the evolution of cutting, and jewelry styles. It also tackles issues such as pricing, ethics and lab-grown diamonds. And to make sure she’s left no stone unturned, she closes her exhaustive guide with the emotional significance of these sparkling gems.

Diamonds is the gift every newcomer to the industry should receive or buy for themselves. It’s also an essential read for consumers who want to make informed choices. Here, Newman discusses her book and its place in today’s diamond scene.

What do you think is the modern consumer’s biggest misconception about diamonds?

I think the biggest misconception is that you can judge a diamond just by reading data on a lab report. To fully appreciate a diamond’s brilliance, fire, transparency and color, you need to look at it in person in different lighting environments.

How can this book serve as a reference for diamond novices?

One goal of this book is to get novices excited about diamonds and all of their benefits. It will also help them identify the wide array of diamond cuts now available and the different period styles of antique and estate jewelry. In addition, they will get a general overview and illustrations of the factors that affect diamond prices: color, carat weight, cut quality, cutting style, shape, clarity, transparency, treatment status, and whether a stone is made by nature or man. If they want more in-depth information and photos on diamond evaluation and identification, they can get it in my Diamond Ring Buying Guide and Diamond Handbook.

What can this book offer people who have been in the trade for years?

It provides them with the latest information on diamond mining, cutting and geographic sources, as well as different high-quality photos of diamond jewelry from the late 1500s until now. It’s an ideal countertop book for jewelers to have in their stores to increase their customers’ interest in diamonds. Florida jeweler Peter Indorf just wrote to me: “Your book is a fascinating read. You have information and images I’ve never seen anywhere. I thought I knew a lot about the subject, but your book has taught this old dog some new tricks.”

With your rich experience of diamonds, what development in the industry excites you most?

The realization that educated customers are willing to spend more money on diamonds than those who only buy diamonds because they are pretty. The launch of the Natural Diamond Council’s website is a good example of how the industry is seeking to better educate consumers.

What was the first diamond that made you a diamond enthusiast? What was special about it?

I became a diamond enthusiast when I got a job sorting parcels with hundreds of diamonds at a wholesale diamond firm in downtown Los Angeles. That made me appreciate how special each diamond can be in terms of their brilliance, transparency, inclusions and cut when viewed under magnification. I started taking photomicrographs, which I later used in my diamond books. What at first appears to be an undesirable black spot in a diamond can turn out to be an attractive red garnet crystal when viewed under high magnification.

What chapter did you most enjoy researching?

The chapter on geographic sources, “Where Are Diamonds Found?” My research put me in contact with interesting mine representatives from around the world and made me aware of all the measures mining companies are taking to protect the environment around the mines and improve the conditions of their employees and the communities they live in. News about diamond finds is more meaningful to me now that I have learned so much more about the mines.

What advice would you give diamond lovers who want to expand their knowledge?

Visit local jewelry stores and attend gem shows to see diamonds and diamond jewelry in person. The experience is more personal than viewing diamonds on the internet, and you can appreciate the jewelry more if you can actually look at it directly and try it on. However, having background knowledge about diamonds beforehand helps one select knowledgeable and ethical jewelers and keeps the experience from being overwhelming. The Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) webinars are also a good way to expand your knowledge.

Diamonds: Their History, Sources, Qualities and Benefits by Renée Newman was published in November 2021 by Firefly Books.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - January 2022. To subscribe click here.

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