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Monday, February 29, 2016

GIA Digitizes Cartier Rare Book Repository and Archives

Most important works in GIA’s 
Cartier Rare Book Repository and Archives Digitized

You may have missed the buzz at the beginning of the year when GIA announced their ambitious new project...digitizing their rare book collection.  A collection of 101 of the rarest and most historically significant books on gems and jewelry is now available to the public through an extensive digitization project by GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center. The important works, which are downloadable for free, include major studies related to minerals, gems and jewelry and span more than 500 years − from 1496 to the present. The debut of the collection online includes the digitization of the oldest book in GIA’s library, Pliny’s “Natural History.” 

Technician digitizing a book on the BC100 Book Capture system.    

The library digitization project is central to GIA’s mission of ensuring the public trust in gems and jewelry and provides global access to hundreds of years’ worth of prominent works. The library will continue to digitize its catalogue of rare and unique books; an estimated 100 works will be made available to the public each year.

Highlights of the collection available for download include:

Pliny’s “Natural History” (1496):
“Naturalis Historia,” by Pliny the Elder (23-79), is one of the earliest and most celebrated academic treatises of all time. Its content dates back to 77 CE and was considered the foundation of all science until the Renaissance. It is one of the largest single works to have survived from the Roman Empire.

Marbode’s “Book of Precious Stones” (1511): Marbode (1035-1123), Bishop of Rennes, originally wrote this manuscript in the form of a 742-line poem between 1061 and 1081, and only 100 copies are known to have been made. This edition of his treatise, called a lapidary, was the first Marbode work printed using Gutenberg’s process of movable metal type.

Haüy’s “Treatise of Mineralogy” (1801): René Just Haüy (1742-1822) was an ordained priest, botanist and mineralogist. His genius lay in his ability to describe the laws that govern the structure of crystals. After accidentally dropping a calcite crystal, Haüy observed its crystal shape from the broken pieces. His curiosity led him to study minerals and create a system to indicate the different faces of crystals. Haüy’s law is known as the law of rational indices.

Sowerby’s “British Mineralogy” (1804-1817): James Sowerby documented the minerals of Great Britain and drew hundreds of specimens. These images were printed using copper plates and then were hand-colored. Sowerby published his illustrations as periodicals sold by subscription. They were later compiled and sold in sets – fewer than 100 complete sets exist today.

Proby’s “British Mineralogy” (1840): Victorian gentlewoman, Martha Proby (1783-1864), created this two-volume set of commonplace books based on Sowerby’s work. Proby meticulously hand-copied selections and illustrated her books with original watercolor paintings, making this set truly one-of-a-kind.

Frémy’s “Synthesis of Ruby” (1891): The work of Edmond Frémy (1814-1894), a French chemist and professor, is documented and beautifully illustrated in this book. Frémy’s interest in synthetic crystal growth led to his groundbreaking work with Auguste Verneuil in growing synthetic rubies using the flux technique. 

GIA’s library, located in Carlsbad, houses a growing collection of more than 57,000 books, 700 journals and magazine titles, 160,000 digital images and 1,900 videos, and the Cartier Rare Book Repository and Archives – making it the world’s premiere repository of information on gems and jewelry. The library’s wealth of gemological knowledge and expertise is available to the general public, trade and scientific community. For more information, visit

An independent nonprofit organization, GIA (Gemological Institute of America), established in 1931, is recognized as the world’s foremost authority in gemology. GIA invented the famous 4Cs of Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight in the early 1950s and in 1953, created the International Diamond Grading System™ which, today, is recognized by virtually every professional jeweler in the world.

Through research, education, gemological laboratory services, and instrument development, the Institute is dedicated to ensuring the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, science, and professionalism.


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