The Internet is perhaps the biggest invention that had shaped the world and revolutionized our lives. Yet, it is also the most under-utilized learning tool in modern society.
Did you know you can learn anything online, literally?
Yep, you heard that right.
And if you are looking for information on gemology and gemstones, you will love today’s post! That’s because we’ve curated a list of awesome websites for free gemological courses and education.
Whether you aspire to be a professional gemologist or simply want to build up your knowledge as a casual gemstone collector, this list of resources will provide a head start into the fascinating world of gemology.
Barbara is an Emeritus Professor at the College of Southern Nevada where she has had many years of teaching experience. Thanks to her generosity, you can now have free access to the same teaching materials utilized by her students!
Visit the website: http://www.bwsmigel.info
Lesson example: Magnification And What It Reveals
A free online gemology school and reference site with well-categorized tutorials. YourGemologist.com is one of the most comprehensive online resource for building up essential knowledge and know-hows.
Visit the website: http://www.yourgemologist.com
Lesson example: The History of the Chelsea Filter
The National Museum of Natural History (part of the Smithsonian Institution) offers a massive online gallery of minerals and gemstone photographs. There is also an useful search function which you can use to filter results by country origins, settings and more…
Visit the website: http://geogallery.si.edu
Image example: Dispersion of Light From the Pearson Diamond
If you are a collector, appraiser or trade personnel, GemVal will be a valuable web-based tool to help you estimate a gem’s value. While the majority of pricing data can be accessed for free, you do require a paid subscription to access pricing data for certain gemstone types.
GemVal.com also offers handy features like the ability to study historical prices and regularly updated pricing data.
Visit the website: http://www.gemval.com
Price guide example: Citrine: Average Retail Prices, Nov 2015
Would you like to get a feel of how and what students in big-name universities learn?
Well, here’s your chance to study and experience it for yourself.
The department of Earth & Planetary Sciences of UC Berkeley has freely made their lecture notes and course materials available to the public.
Visit the website: http://nature.berkeley.edu/classes/eps2/
Lesson example: Pyroxenes (and amphiboles), Tourmaline, & Garnet
This massive information center contains hundreds of in-depth articles arranged in alphabetical categories. In particular, I find the charts depicting gemstone characteristics to be very useful. Best of all, they can all be easily printed out for convenient referencing.
Visit the website: http://www.gemselect.com/gem-info/gemstone-information-center.php
Lesson example: Reference Index Chart
Created by John Harris, his website is hands-down the best Spectroscopy resource on the Internet. It’s so good that I would go as far as to say it surpasses the quality of paid tutorials and courses.
His lessons that are written in a clear and concise manner, making them really easy to understand even for the layman. On top of that, John’s spectroscopy illustrations are very detailed and suitable for use as reference charts.
Visit the website: http://www.gemlab.co.uk
Lesson sample: Diffraction Spectra of Zircon (High Type)
Kirk Feral’s website covers everything about gemstone magnetism. It contains tons of reference charts and research work that isn’t published anywhere else.
The website also has an indepth tutorial on how you can use magnetic wands as a testing method to identify various types of gemstones.
Whether you are a casual gem hobbyist, professional gemologist or a like-minded researcher, I’m sure you’ll learn something useful and find this site interesting.
Visit the website: http://www.gemstonemagnetism.com/index.html
Lesson sample: How to Use a Magnet for Gem Identification
A non-profit wiki database for people interested in gemstones and gemology. This website has a mix of basic gemology lessons and advanced tutorials which require an understanding of fundamental sciences.
Visit the website: http://www.gemologyproject.com/wiki/index.php?title=Table_Of_Contents
Lesson sample: Luminescence – Phosphorescence
Created in June 2008, Real Gems is a non-profit project created to showcase gemstones, collector stones and other related information on a single website.
Visit the website: http://www.realgems.org
Lesson sample: Crystal Systems And Examples
A laboratory offering advanced gemological testing services and global consulting services to the trade. The “Published Works” section on their website consists of indepth journal articles about gemstones and testing techniques. Definitely worth checking out if you are a professional gemologist or appraiser.
Visit the website: http://stonegrouplabs.com/wp/?page_id=17
Lesson sample: Bright Line Technique – Enhance Your Refractometer Readings
The Department of Earth and Space Sciences provides full length lecture notes which can be downloadable in PDF format. The notes cover a range of topics like chemical composition and gemstone origins. The ample use of illustrations to explain difficult concepts helps in achieving better understanding.
Visit the website: http://earthweb.ess.washington.edu/ess-103/
Lesson sample: Halid And Sulfide Minerals
Comprehensive gemology course notes on various gemstone types. These notes provide substantial coverage on mining sources and data on performing pricing and valuations. You can also browse through images of more than 6300+ gemological specimens which are neatly collated in 5 sub-collections here.
Visit the website: http://www.geo.utexas.edu/courses/347k/default.htm
Lesson sample: Corundum
Susie Aber has generously made the gemology course (44 lectures!) available for all to enjoy. The course notes are a goldmine of knowledge and cover topics like gemstone identification, testing methods to cutting and polishing roughs. In each set of lecture notes, there are citations provided to point you towards comprehensive readings.
Visit the website: http://academic.emporia.edu/abersusa/go340/fileindex.htm
Lesson sample: Optical Properties
Written by Vincent Pardieu, this travel blog takes you on a gemological adventure with expedition reports from around the world. You can discover the origins of gemstones and gain insights to local mining operations through his blog posts.
Besides writing about his travel experiences, Vincent is also the author of several high profile journal articles; some of which can be conveniently downloaded on his website.
Visit the website: http://www.fieldgemology.org
Article example: Lead Glass Filled/Repaired Rubies
This official government website contains everything you need to know about the production of gemstones in the United States. Another resource of noteworthy mention is the National Minerals Information Center; where you can study statistics and gain information on the worldwide supply of, demand for, and flow of minerals and materials.
Visit the website: http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/gemstones/sp14-95/contents.html
Article Sample: Chalcedony
The CIGEM is one of the most prominent learning institute for professional gemologist training. Their quarterly newsletter, Gemmology Canada, is highly recommended for people who are serious about a career in gemology.
The free resource we listed here is a curation of articles extracted from CIGEM’s newsletter “Gemmology Canada”. I recommend bookmarking their “Lab Alert And News” section to keep up with the latest industry developments.
Visit the website: https://www.cigem.ca
Article sample: Gemstone Inclusion Library
Starla has been a gemology instructor for more than 20 years and she’s a star! In her easy to follow videos, her personality and teaching experience really shines through!
Visit the website: https://www.youtube.com/user/starlatrwc/videos
Video sample: Describing Color in Gemstones
This Youtube channel (created by FGAA Gemmologist, Edward Mendelson) compiles and aggregates gemology related video tutorials. And it gets better… Edward has painstakingly categorized the videos into convenient playlists where you can immediately jump to specific topics!
Visit the website: https://www.youtube.com/user/gemlogicorg/
Playlist sample: Diamond Video Playlist
A series of helpful video clips on gemstone identification, sterling silver testing and more… These videos show you some practical usage of common tools and testing techniques employed in the real world.
Visit the website: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCteeamcegaKj2enfLg3GsYw
Video sample: Gem Identification – Specific Gravity Made Easy
Their gemological articles are laden with beautiful pictures coupled with detailed explanations. What more can you ask for?
Visit the website: http://www.lotusgemology.com/index.php/library/articles
Article sample: Heat Seeker – UV Fluorescence as a Gemological Tool
Access an amazing collection of antique and old book titles for FREE. Farlang has also developed an online reader for users to access out-of-print books in the public domain.
Visit the website: http://farlang.com/books
Ebook sample: Diamonds And Precious Stones
This is a digitalized library of non-copyrighted gemological books where you can download files in .pdf format. If you are interested in studying gemstones from both scientific and historical perspectives, this is a treasure trove of knowledge that will literally take years to finish reading.
Visit the website: http://gemology.se/chronology.html
Ebook sample: Dictionary of Gems And Gemology
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world’s most well-known laboratory and gemology school. Besides offering accredited courses, GIA also leads the forefront of gemstone research and grading services. Their news and articles section is an awesome resource that keeps you informed of the latest happenings.
Also, the free gem encyclopedia offers many practical tips like a buyer’s guide, photos and videos for interactive learning. Highly recommended stuff!
Visit the website: http://www.gia.edu
Article sample: Iolite Quality Factors
Magi Gemology Instruments – The 1st in the world to publish a FREE gemological oriented Raman spectra and photoluminescence library. They also have an article section with useful application notes and good readings.
Gemology Online – An interactive gemmological resource that features a popular forum where professionals hang out.
Gemmological Association of Great Britain – Gem A is one of the world’s leading provider of gem and jewelry education. Their blog is a treasure trove of useful articles to get started with. And if you decide to take things a little further, sign up for a course!
As you can see, there’s a growing number of fantastic resources (free!) for gemological education. These websites have become a blessing for aspiring students, hobbyists, and even professionals who need a quick reference.
We strongly encourage you to browse through each of these websites and start building up your knowledge. More importantly, have fun!
And if you ever decide to take your education to a higher level, there are accredited programs offered by gemological institutes to suit individual needs. But that’s for another post in the future.
I hope you enjoyed reading the write up and found it useful. If you know of any free online gemology courses or useful sites that we missed, do let us know by leaving a comment below!
An excellent article indeed. Actually I used Barbara Smigel’s course many years ago when I started learning gemology and before I attended the GIA. It gave me a great insight into the world of gems and actually was the catalyst to me quitting my job and taking the leap to attend the GIA. Incidentally, there is one resource I think you missed, which I also found very useful – a collection of articles by GIA gemologists on various gemological subjects – http://www.lapigems.com/articles
The article on gemstone and light theory was of great use to me in writing my paper.
Great article for people looking to learn about gemology but are short of finance. My friend who is also in this field as an appraiser learned the basics from the Barbara Smigel course and then enrolled into diamond grading course from GIA – http://www.giaindia.in/graduate-gemologists/
Yep. That was the whole purpose of compiling this list of resources.
Woh, What a compilation of data and very useful for leaners, those who are passionate to learn Gemology but have no financial resources. A great effort. And I sincerely thank Paul Gian for giving this reference.
Manjunatha D P
ggeologist & Gemologist,