Eduard J. Gübelin Dies at 91


March 18, 2005

Eduard J. Gübelin Dies at 91

Eduard J. Gübelin of the Gübelin Laboratory, gemologist and author, died March 14 in Lucerne, Switzerland. He was 91. The news was reported by Pala International, Fallbrook, CA, from which many facts in this obituary were gleaned, as well as from the Gübelin Laboratory website.

Dr. Gübelin's history begins with his father, Eduard Gübelin Sr., who established a state-of-the-art gemological laboratory station as a component of his jewelry business in Lucerne during the first quarter of the 20th century. The jewelry industry at that time was coping with the first synthetic gemstones (rubies and spinels) as well as the development of cultured pearls.

In 1932, Dr. Gübelin joined his father's business, combining his knowledge of mineralogy and the jewelry business with his love and admiration for gemstones. He earned a Ph.D. in mineralogy in 1938. He was the author of many publications spanning decades, including the 1974 classic Internal World of Gemstones: Documents from Space and Time, the title reflecting his love of poetry. The book demonstrated how the direct source of stones might be identified by their "internal world," especially inclusions.

"It is never easy to lose a close and dear friend. Dr. Eduard Gübelin was far more than a professional mentor to me. He was like an older brother, and someone I loved," says John Koivula, of the AGTA-GTC Lab, and co-author with Dr. Gübelin of the 1986 book Photoatlas of Inclusions of Gemstones. "While we shared a common interest through our enjoyment of gemology and the microscopic world of gems, we also shared much in our personal lives. As he grew older he slowed down some, but never gave up doing the things he loved to do. He was a truly remarkable man and lived a long, full and exciting life. While his passing is very sad, the life he lived is reason for celebration," says Koivula.

"I had the opportunity a decade ago to assist him in compiling a bibliography of his writings. As I perused the listings, I was struck by the sheer breadth of his work. And so often as I traveled to remote areas in pursuit of gems, I found myself traveling paths that he had blazed decades before," says Richard W. Hughes, also of the AGTA-GTC Lab. "While he is known first and foremost as a gemologist, his life was so much more. Gübelin was a Renaissance Man in the old-school style. [He was an] author, artist, filmmaker, traveler, poet. He had a love of life and living and that always came through in his writings."

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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