Gems & Crystals
From the American Museum of Natural History

Anna S. Sofianides and George E. Harlow

Photography by Erica and Harold Van Pelt

“This lavishly illustrated book is one that could grace the coffee tables of even the most discriminating readers. The magnificent gem photographs are the work of Erica and Harold Van Pelt, the famed photographers of gems and minerals....Even the pages announcing the contents of the book are decorated with lovely gem pictures....It is a truly beautiful book that anyone would be pleased to own. The price is right and it is a ‘breathtaking guide to one of the world's greatest collections’”
Rocks & Minerals

Delong Star Ruby

The record of human fascination with the beauty and allure of gems and crystals spans millennia. Since the first colorful stone was utilized as an object of adornment, gemstones have been credited with magical and medicinal virtues; coveted as symbols of wealth and power; polished, shaped, engraved, and faceted to enhance their beauty; analyzed to reveal the secrets of their eye-catching properties; and exploited as the basis of a glamorous industry.

Gems & Crystals provides a comprehensive examination of gems and gem materials including discussion of their properties, history, lore, and sources—information useful to novice and expert alike. The reader will discover the relationships among gems, crystals, minerals, rocks and the bewildering variety of gemstones. The extensively researched text encompasses a panorama of topics from ancient lapidaries that are filled with descriptions of gems and their virtues to the most up-to-the date scientific data.

Gems & Crystals relates both intriguing legends about the gemstones and the general history of their use and popularity in different cultures. American Museum of Natural History’s gem collection, itself the stuff of legends, is described in this comprehensive book by Anna S. Sofianides and George E. Harlow, Curator of Gems and Minerals, in the Department of Mineral Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History.

Gems & Crystals presents an accessible and entertaining text with 150 dazzling photographs to make this book a truly beautiful reflection of the gems, crystals and objets d’art from one of the world’s most fabled collections.

Rights available: World

Aquamarine, morganite, and
heliodor from various localities.


208 pages
150 color photographs
8-7/8"x 12"; 225 x 304 mm
Shipping Weight: 3 pounds

Anna S. Sofianides, M.S., an Associate in the Department of Mineral Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History, is certified by the Gemological Institute of America. She was born in Bulgaria and has lived in the United States since 1970. A tireless researcher, Sofianides has been collecting data on gemstones and the Museum's collection since 1974.

George E. Harlow, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Mineral Sciences at the American Msuem of Natural History, is an eminent mineralogist and crystallographer. While interested in a broad range of geologic topics, he specializes in the study of rock-forming minerals, particularly feldspars and pyroxenes. Recently Harlow has been carrying out research on the jadeite variety of jade, examining the source in Guatemala and the provenance of jade for New-World jade artifacts.

Harold and Erica Van Pelt are recognized among the top photographers of gems and gemstones in the world. Their work has appeared in Lapidary Journal, Gems and Gemology, Rock and Gem, and Mineralogical Record.


“This book owes its magnificence to the remarkable gem collection of the American Museum of Natural History and to the talents of expert photographers Erica and Harold Van Pelt. One hundred and fifty breathtaking photographs illustrate the beauty of the museum’s finest specimens. It is a ‘can’t put down’ book from the beginning....This book is a must for anyone whose heart beats faster at the sight of a truly great specimen.”
Lapidary Journal

“‘Exquisite and informative, a rare find best’ describes this dazzling visual compendium....Enthusiastically recommended.”
Library Journal

Emerald crystal from
Ural Mountains, Russia.

“Combining the practical with the fantastic, this display of 400 gems and crystals from the American Museum of Natural History serves as both reference book and source of sheer pleasure. Clearly written descriptions, tables and charts define the origins, histories and distinctive properties of the stones, along with synthetics, imitations and related materials likely to be mistaken for the real thing. Also accounted for are the stones’ legends and lore, their magical and medicinal marvels.”
San Diego Magazine

“A lush, full-color look at human fascination with the beauty and allure of gems and crystals, with 150 dazzling photos. If you can’t afford the gem, buy the book instead.”
Indianapolis News

“...a must. This beautifully illustrated and informed guide is a wonderful starting point for anyone with a hankering for these gorgeous gems and crystals.”
The State Columbia, South Carolina


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