Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Online resource: Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

The saying goes that all that glitters is not gold, and the online Corsi Collection of decorative stones certainly serves to prove the point in its most literal sense. Incredibly, the resource represents the early 19th century collection of natural stone collected by Italian lawyer Faustino Corsi. Corsi acquired examples of stone used by the ancient Romans and added a selection of decorative rocks and minerals from Italy and abroad to form what is most likely, the grandest gem collection ever curated - there are at least 1,000 slabs of polished decorative stones available to browse via the resource!

An Oxford student purchased the collection and presented it to his university who today, keep it preserved in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Now, a funded research project has made the collection available to a mass audience which should be particularly exciting for anyone interested in the colours and properties of decorative stones from marbles to serpentinites, basalts, granites and other precious types.

While Corsi's catalogue is likely to appeal to geologists, the tab to 'Explore Corsi's stones' is the best departure point for visual examples. In particular, the extensive gallery and thumbnails enable you to scroll through the entire collection and select stones that could be used to advance the decoration of a particular object or design. Better still, if you know the name of a particular stone and wish to research it in more detail, the 'Find a stone' option enables you to do so. We think jewellery designers will find this a goldmine of inspiration while fine artists may be surprised at how the unusual colours and patterns of the stones reflect back techniques and compositions easily associated with abstract artworks. Some examples are above.