I will not give in to the easy puns! But I will give in to the urge to stare at shiny rocks. Soooo shiny… the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has launched The Gem Project, available at http://www.gia.edu/research-resources/gia-gem-database/. This site is based on the data from the Edward J. Gübelin collection of gemstones and it’s an interesting mix of browsable information and downloadable PDF. According to a story in National Jeweler, about 1,000 of the stones in the Gübelin collection have had data cataloged.
From the front page of the site you can choose to browse beryls, corundums, garnets, spinels, or tourmalines. Picking a category of stone will give you a list of specimens from that category; I’d say there were about fifty total. Each item listed has a brilliant picture, but to get details about it you have to click on the item number, which gives you the option to download a PDF file!
The PDF files I looked at were two pages with a description of the item, gemological properties, and photomicrograph data. (Today’s word, kids, is diaphaneity.)
I found the gem collection interesting but too-brief — I was left wanting to explore more data. In addition to this new Gem Project, the GIA also has a free archive of its Gems & Gemology publication, with the issues spanning 1934-1980. And if you’re looking for something a little less high-level, visit the page on grading diamonds and colored stones, or the visual resource library for educators.