When selecting a book about a topic or field of study you are interested in, it is best to conduct thorough research before making a purchasing decision. Even worse than losing your hard-earned money is finding out the resource recently purchased was inadequate for your needs. 

Suppose you are interested in learning more about pearls and exploring a comprehensive guide beyond what you would find in a blog post. In that case, reviewing these five books ranked from one to five in descending order of recommendation. As a pearl enthusiast, I have read these five books and found them to be informative for nonexperts like myself interested in learning more about this natural gem.

Table of Contents

1. Pearl buying guide: how to evaluate, identify and select pearls and pearl jewelry by Renée Newman

This is the sixth edition of this uniquely practical guide for pearl enthusiasts interested in learning more about pearls. It is written by the famous gemologist Renée Newman. She has authored over 14 books on gems and jewelry and provides a refreshing understanding of pearls to a general audience. 

In this concise guide, Renée provides a comprehensive guide and understanding of the world of pearls. Her current book has over 300 photographs and is well-illustrated. She talks about conventional pearls such as Akoya, freshwater, Tahitian, natural, faux pearls, and Keshi pearls. This book is an easy read for both pearl enthusiasts and seasoned professionals interested in learning more about pearls.

In my opinion, this is one book every pearl buyer should read. If you have previous editions, I recommend getting the most recent edition since a lot is happening in the world of pearls, especially when it comes to freshwater pearls.

Visit Renee’s website to purchase a copy. I found the section on pearl quizzes particularly useful for those willing to challenge themselves further.

Pearl Buying Guide, Renee Newman.

2. The Pearl Book, fourth edition by Antoinette Leonard Matlins PG.

The author is a certified gemologist with decades of experience. In this color-illustrated book with 17 chapters, Antoinette shares insider tips related to the appraisal of pearls, seeking laboratory reports of authenticity, and the whole process of buying pearls. Additional chapters adequately cover the care of pearls, wearing pearls with style, and understanding the pricing of pearls. It covers topics that are usually not covered by most buying guides.

She shows various interesting historical anecdotes, including the mystery of Cleopatra’s pearl drink meant Mark Antony, the classic unconquerable “La Peregrina” Pearl, and a host of other compelling tales about pearls. As a pearl enthusiast, I found her summary of important historical events surrounding pearls to be exciting. You can visit her website here to learn more about her professional work.

If you are interested in reading a preview version of the book before making a purchase decision, you can visit Antoinette’s website here.

3. The Book of the Pearl: Its History, Art, Science, and Industry, by George Frederick Kunz.

This is the ultimate book on the history of pearls. It is the foundational book for contemporary gemologists and is undoubtedly a challenging read for the general public. Suppose you are interested in learning more than just surface knowledge about pearls known to nonexperts. In that case, I will strongly recommend this book.

It was published in 1908 and now exists in a digitized format for free. You can find it here (external link: archive.org). Thankfully, the book is now available in a reprint format by Dover Publications (previously licensed under The Century Co, NY, in 1908). Get either the kindle or hardcopy version of this iconic book. 

I was interested in learning more about the origin of pearls in antiquity. I was amazed by the impressive tales outlined in this authoritative work. 

4. Pearls: A Natural History

Pearls: A natural history by N. Landman and P. Mikkelsen is a comprehensive book about pearls. The authors have reduced the technical language in this book and added over 200 beautiful pictures to make the learning experience more immersive. As a novice, I bought this book as a testing ground for learning about pearls. In some ways, it is a coffee table book and fits that role well. It is certainly not meant for experts in the field of gemology. But for anyone curious about learning more about pearls, this is the perfect book to get your feet wet.

5. Pearls (Fred Ward Gem Book)

This section of the Fred Ward Gem Book Series addresses everything you need to know about pearls. It is well-written by a pearl enthusiast with a lot of first-hand experience in the field of gemology. Fred Ward brings a journalistic twist to an area that is dominated by academics. I enjoyed reading this book. It has excellent photographs and instructive illustrations. I felt more knowledgeable about this field at the end of my reading. 

If you are looking for a quick guide to buying and selling pearls (family heirlooms or thrift finds), this is your go-to book on a Friday night.

This is a concise book written for a general audience, not trainees or gemology experts. Since most people interested in pearls are nonexperts, this coffee table book is an excellent resource for the pearl niche.

About the Author


I am a pearl and oyster enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge and experiences about fashion with the world. I am neither a certified gemologist nor a reseller of pearls.

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