May 21, 2002
Sinkankas Dead at 87
John Sinkankas, modern mineralogy and gemology expert, died at his home in San Diego, CA, on May 17, 2002. Just two days before, Sinkankas had celebrated his 87th birthday. His wife Marjorie survives him.
Sinkankas was born in Paterson, NJ, a son of Lithuanian immigrants who fostered his love of the natural world. His mother, Domicele, taught him the basics of research and collecting and cataloging natural items.
Sinkankas entered the U.S. Navy as an air cadet in World War II. He retired after 25 years of service with the rank of captain.
He took correspondence courses from the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society while still in the Navy and developed an interest in the lapidary arts. In 1947, Sinkankas began cutting gemstones. Some of his greatest lapidary achievements are on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
He authored magazine articles and nearly 20 books on mineralogy and gemology. His first,Gem Cutting A Lapidary's Manual, has been reprinted and translated into more than a dozen languages.
As a result of his collection of notable and antique books on gems and minerals he established a book business, Peri Lithon Books. GIA acquired his 14,000-item library of books and articles in 1988. It is housed at the GIAs Richard T. Liddicoat Library in Carlsbad, CA.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.