Welcome to Gems and Gem Materials

This unique internet-based course is designed for students without a strong background in basic science.

The primary goal of the course is to present some introductory earth science and to provide students with a solid understanding of gemology.

The course covers (1) processes leading to the formation of gems in the Earth, (2)how gems are identified, (3) factors that affect the appearance and value of gems, (6) processes used to enhance the appearance of gems, (7) materials used to simulate common gemstones, and (8) issues associated with the synthesis of gems.  Information about each of the main gem groups is provided.

This course was initially developed by Jill Banfield while she was a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The internet materials were developed in summer 1995, and distance education students began to take in Fall 1995. The course was first offered as an internet option to UW students in 1997. The course is now being offered at UC Berkeley. NOTE: THIS COURSE PROVIDES PHYSICAL SCIENCE CREDIT.  

This is a 2 or 3 credit class, the second credit requires a term paper , and the third credit requires attendance at practial sessions and a crystal growing lab.

This course absolutely requires that you have an email account. The class lists email lists are generated by the University -- these are essential for communication in this course. You will only receive e-mail if your email address is up to date in "Bearlink" .

Class Correspondence:

 If you did not get a subset of the class emails OR if you have misplaced these messages, you will find a respository of all class emails - see sidebar on left.

NOW proceed to the course description and syllabus. Once you start the lecture sequence you should read all the materials on the main lecture page. Materials that will not be included on student examinations but that are linked to the main lecture pages are so marked.

One you finish a lecture, you can also either go directly to the next lecture in sequence using an arrow at the end of the lecture OR you can go back to a menu page. It is possible to go any lecture from the syllabus.


We have integrated a body of information provided to us by Robert Williams. This information includes material available in his program GEMSTONE"

A significant portion of the work in assembling this site was done by Heather Henkel, a geology student. Her input is greatfully acknoweldged! Wren Montgomery helped move the site to Berkeley and with updating in 2002.

The following individuals provided assistance in many forms: Ben Abernathy (html, computing), Phil Brown (html), and Kathy Christoph and Ritchie Boyd (financial, concepts).

Thanks are expressed to John Miller and Ray Elsey of Associate Jewelers Tradeshop for permission to store a subset of their site ( http://www.tradeshop.com/gems/index.html) locally.

The methods used to acquire images used in these lecture notes and other information described in a linked document.

We have made every effort to ensure that the information here is accurate, but can not guarantee the materials are free of errors. If you find information that you think may be inaccurate, please email me using the link above. I hope you enjoy these materials.

Jill Banfield

The materials on this web site are COPYRIGHT (Jill Banfield and Hanna Cook-Wallace, 2002), updated copyright: Jill Banfield and Hanna Cook-Wallace, 2005.