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I couldn’t come up with a clever title for this post, so I’ll just lay it out: Reference books are a collector’s best friend.

Here are a few of my favorites:
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The Guide to Gems & Jewelry at first appeared to just be PR for GemsTV – it has some really great information about traditional gemstones (diamonds, sapphires, pearls) but also about lab-created varieties. It’s been instrumental in my understanding what to look for to ensure I have a real stone – though, truly, only time and practice hones that skill.

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How to be a Jewelry Detective might look elementary…but it’s a great “field guide”. It covers everything from makers marks to dating jewelry based on it’s composition. Mrs. Bell gives you hints and tips on what to look for, but she also acts as a great reference when you’re home with your purchase(s). With these two books together, I feel like I’ve got the field guide to jewelry and I’m ready to hunt!

For me, reference books are much like the required reading of a collegiate course. I may not always want to spend the time reading them when there’s a hot novel on my bedside table, but I’m always happy come Saturday morning when I’m out sale-ing or getting texts from friends doing the same.

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The trouble with these books is that they can be rather expensive. I usually take a swing past the collectible section at Half Price Books whenever I’m there, as there are often good deals to be found. I love the sound and feel of a brand new book – but sometimes it’s better to get the knowledge second-hand. If I ever see these types of books at estate sales I feel compelled to pick them up – because someone else trusted the information they held. I should note that the majority of these have been gifted to me – I can usually count on Santa to keep an eye on my latest interests and have something waiting for me under the tree. You can also check these books out from your local library…but be prepared to pay exorbitant late fees when you’ve decided the book is too good to return!

If hoarding collecting runs in your family or friend circle, might I suggest a lending library? Red Hen was kind enough to let me bring some of her reference books back to Dallas – but even she had her limits, exclaiming more than once, “Do you know how much I had to pay for that? And it’s so hard to find! You can borrow it as far as the kitchen table, but no further…”
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If you’re in the mood to be jolly, buy a book or two for yourself or another vintag-ista. It’s the gift that keeps giving!

~Lainey