Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Green View Press, 2009, available from www.emeraldpassion.com
This beautiful, lavishly illustrated book is well named, because author Ronald Ringsrud's passionate love affair with emerald will surely enchant and delight like-minded enthusiasts.   It is an excellent guide to all things emerald, and is fun to read.  Although it has a chatty tone, the science is sound and  explained simply and well.  Mr. Ringsrud's primary intended audience seems to be the end consumer, but professional gemologists will enjoy it's tidbits of  insider knowledge that they unexpectedly didn't know.   Only someone so deeply immersed in a single  gemstone for a couple of decades gains this level of understanding, and jewelers and gemologists who are by necessity more generalized will appreciate its insights and usefulness.  Early in the book, Mr. Ringsrud acknowledges this, telling his peers that they'll know when to skip ahead, but to stay tuned anyway, "because there are anecdotes, stories and nuggets of information that will be of interest to every reader."   Good advice!  For the beginning gemologist or lay-person, the book will be exceptionally valuable, not only in conveying an authentic connoisseurship of emerald,  but also in the right way of conducting oneself in the gem trade (everything from how to use tweezers, fold a stone paper, dealer relationship etiquette, and so forth).   

My chief criticism of the book is not really directed at the book, as it can't be helped.  The production values are excellent, with hundreds of illustrations and photographs...but the problem here is that emeralds seem to defy being photographed accurately.   The particular color green of fine Colombian emerald, with its mysterious underlying red fluorescence which Mr. Ringsrud explains so beautifully, doesn't seem to reproduce well.  So many of the examples in this book look capable of eliciting actual swooning in real life, but a reader unfamiliar with emerald in person might be scratching his head and still wondering "What's the big deal?  OK, they're green!"   Take Mr. Ringsrud's advice, and get thee to the next gem show, or an independent jeweler who still believes in stocking quality merchandise, and see fine emerald for yourself.  Only after truly looking and comparing these exquisite gemstones in person will Mr. Ringsrud's passion, and his book of rapturous poetry and heartfelt intimacy, make perfect sense!

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