More than 28,000 stones
A pioneer in so many respects, the late Dr. Eduard Gubelin 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. This work also established the basis of the Gubelin gemstone reference collection. This collection serves as the basis for the daily work of the Gubelin Gem Lab, and consists of more than 28,000 stones. It is probably the world’s most complete collection of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, chrysoberyls, alexandrites and other 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 Gubelin 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.
Origin determination of gemstones
This rigorous characterisation of gem deposits paved the way for additional gemmological information: the country of origin. In the early 1950s Dr. Gubelin began to determine the geographic origin of gemstones and to disclose this in the reports issued by the Gubelin 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.
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. However, they lack one attribute in the eyes of the trade: they have no pedigree. We at the Gubelin 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.
Research and scientific publications by the Gübelin Gem Lab
The Gubelin Gem Lab had three articles on origin determination published in the magazine Jewellery News Asia. We invite you to explore the world of origin determination:
The Roots of Origin Determination
The Limitations of Origin Determination
A Holistic Method to Determining Gem Origin