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Review: Gems and Jewels for iOS

Touch Press, the creators of the acclaimed Solar System, The Elements, and The Waste Land now offers viewers a look at some spectacular Gems and Jewels. This app’s capabilities go beyond those you saw in some of those earlier productions. Take a peek at the video overview linked to our preview button below-it’s absolutely mesmerizing.

Title: Gems and Jewels
Grande, Lance and Allison Augustyn
Photography: Nick Mann
Developers: University of Chicago Press, Field Museum of Natural History, Touch Press.
Platform: iPad, iOS 4.2 or later

Version: 1.0.1
Price: $13.99

Screen shot from Gems and Jewels

Gr 5 Up-While the Field Museum’s Gems and Gemstones (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2009), which this app duplicates in full and expands upon, is a high-gloss beauty book, depicting as it does the most glamorous objects on the planet, it is also a serious work. In a well-organized introduction, the authors discuss the geology of gems and their place in human culture: why these stones (and organic materials such as coral, ivory, amber, and pearl) are so valuable, how they are obtained, and the folklore and ethics surrounding them.

Each gem is written about in similar depth–thus viewers learn that Indian soldiers loaded their guns with garnets during the rebellion of 1892 and that Olivine gems have been found in meteorites. The writing style is direct and clear with flashes of humor. Live links provide users with access to detailed data about the properties and composition of the stones.

Although this app is loaded with fascinating stories and useful scientific information, it’s the photography that provokes covetous sighs. Stunning doesn’t adequately describe the high-resolution 360-degree images of the mineral specimens and jewels from the museum’s deep collection. A double-tap on any object yields a close-up view that can be rotated, enlarged, or both. Another tap brings rotatable side-by-side rotatable images. (Viewers who are able to cross their eyes and ‘free view’ stereoscopic images can see the objects in 3D; those who can’t may purchase 3D viewing glasses via an in-app link.) The stereo views are spectacular, allowing viewers to witness the mysterious shimmer of moonstones, the light-filled depths of mineral specimens, the sparkle of faceted gems, and the magnificent intricacy of the jeweler’s art. A dazzling app for reference and leisure viewing. –Paula Willey, Pink Me

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