Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin can justly be called the father of modern gemology. Born in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1913, his family were watchmakers and jewelers in the best Swiss tradition. He studied at universities in Zurich and Vienna, earning a Ph.D. in mineralogy in 1938. He then traveled to the United States, where he was one of the first resident students of the young Gemological Institute of America and worked with early pioneers of the professional gemological movement.
Early in the twentieth century, Gübelin's father, Eduard Gübelin, Sr., recognized the need for scientific analysis of gemstones to support the jewelry industry. In 1902 the French chemist Auguste Verneuil had developed a method known as flame fusion to create synthetic ruby. This innovation was no mere laboratory experiment. By 1907 Verneuil had turned his lab into a full scale production facility and was turning out 1,000 kg of synthetic corundum per year. The jewelry industry needed to be able to certify natural gemstones.
The Gübelin family established the Gübelin Gem Lab and young Eduard joined the family firm in 1932. During his studies with Prof. Hermann Michel in Vienna, he had developed an interest in the study of inclusions in gems and their significance for the identification of gemstones. It became a lifelong interest and led to his greatest contributions to gemological science.
Dr. Gübelin became a leading expert on gemstone inclusions and photomicrography. He published a number of important books and hundreds of articles in scholarly and popular journals. His best known books include Internal World of Gemstones: Documents from Space and Time (1974) and Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones (1986), co-authored with gemologist John Koivula.
Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin's Beryl Collection
Based on Dr. Gübelin's study of inclusions, the Gübelin Lab became a pioneer in determining the origin of gemstones. Over a career spanning 70 years, Dr. Gübelin assembled a world famous gemstone collection of more than 5,000 specimens, covering all commercial and rare gem species. He had personally collected many of the specimens during his travels to many remote mining locations.
Dr. Gübelin died in 2005, just a few days short of his 92nd birthday. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has acquired his gemstone collection for the benefit of the profession.
- First Published: July-11-2009
- Last Updated: August-15-2017
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