GIA unveils Edward Gubelin gem project


New online resource provides easy access to colored stone data.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) recently launched the Gem Project. Comprised of data collected from gemstones in the Edward J. Gübelin collection, which the Institute acquired in 2005, the online resource includes a photo, description and gemological properties for each sample.

The GIA Gem Project is free to the trade and public at any time from anywhere in the world. The gemological information on these gemstones is also available in PDF format.

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“The Gem Project can act like a virtual museum, but instead of standing in front of a display case, users see a photo of a gemstone and key pieces of information about it,” said Terri Ottaway, GIA Museum curator. “This also makes it easier to compare the similarities and differences between types of stones at an advanced level.”

The Edward J. Gübelin collection consists of more than 2,800 samples representing 225 minerals and gem materials, which come from 48 different countries. Dr. Gübelin, one of the world’s preeminent gemologists, collected colored gemstones from major localities worldwide from approximately 1940 to 2000. His lifelong study of inclusions in gemstones revolutionized the science of gemology and helped lay the foundation of identifying gems microscopically.

“Many of the gemstones in this collection are extraordinary examples in terms of color, weight and geographic origin,” said Dr. James Shigley, GIA’s Distinguished Research Fellow. “I’m not aware of any other online resource with this type of gemological information. It significantly enhances the educational and display potential of GIA’s gem collection and supports the colored stone trade.”

GIA researchers used a variety of standard data collection procedures to characterize each gemstone. Because the results were obtained from the same individual gemstone, this database will enable researchers to view, for example, possible variations in gemological properties from one locality to another within a given species.

Photomicrographs of interesting features, graphical plots of visible, infrared, Raman and photoluminescence spectra, and qualitative chemical composition information are also available, depending on the gemstone.

To date, GIA has collected data on approximately 1,000 of the gemstones focusing on the corundums, spinels, garnets, beryls and tourmalines. Information on a select group of 50 stones is available and additional groups of gemstones will be added over time.

In the future, an online database will make it easier to browse and study the gems in the GIA Gem Project. The Institute plans to expand the database to include other stones in the GIA collection, and possibly historical and important gems from other collections.

To access the GIA Gem Project, visit To browse the stones from the collection, use the left-hand navigation bar under "GIA Gem Project." For more information on the GIA Gem Project, contact Dr. James Shigley at

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