The start of the
A pioneer in so many respects, the late Eduard Josef Gübelin brought back to Switzerland numerous gemstone specimens from known mines and locations, in order to study and document the various gem deposits he was visiting during his numerous field trips around the world. His passion for the inner, microscopic world of gemstones, his scientific knowledge and his curiosity led him to systematically classify and characterise these samples on the basis of their microscopic features.
More than 28.000
This work also established the basis of the Gübelin gemstone reference collection. This collection serves as the basis for the daily work of the Gübelin Gem Lab, and consists of more than 28,000 stones. It is probably the world’s most complete collection of all types of coloured gemstone culled from all the commercially relevant mines worldwide. It also encompasses mines which are exhausted or closed decades ago. The collection’s value is almost impossible to estimate, but it ensures that we are in a position to compare gems from the Gübelin reference collection with clients’ most antique pieces which are supposed to have originated from the very same source. Of course, this collection also comprises hundreds of diamonds, pearls and other gem material.
This rigorous characterisation of gem deposits paved the way for additional gemmological information: the country of origin. In the early 1950s Eduard Josef Gübelin began to determine the geographic origin of gemstones and to disclose this in the reports issued by the Gübelin Gem Lab. This nascent determination of origin triggered a growing awareness of the various mining sources. As a consequence, some sources acquired a certain prestige, and gems extracted from those mines began to benefit from the glamour of their provenance and achieve a higher market price.
Past & Recent
Alas, not all gemstones originating from a famous country are of superior quality. Even the most prestigious origins tend to yield gems of a low-to-medium quality. On the other hand, top quality gemstones are nowadays also being recovered from more recently discovered deposits. This is true in particular of the sapphires found in Africa. Some of the gemstones discovered in some of that continent’s deposits are truly impressive, and also found in remarkable sizes. We at the Gübelin Gem Lab are convinced that some of these stones will gain in reputation on the basis of their beauty, and their provenances will become respected as others have in the past.