GIA to honor Gübelin with memorial service, scholarship

Several tributes honoring Dr. Edward J. Gübelin, 91, a renowned pioneer, author, and researcher in the international gemological movement, are planned by the Gemological Institute of America, says GIA president Bill Boyajian. Gübelin, 91, was an early student, graduate, contributor, and lifelong supporter of GIA. He died March 14, as reported by JCK on March17.

The tributes include: a May 21 memorial service at GIA’s Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters, open to “all his friends and family,” said Boyajian; a new GIA scholarship in his name for a worthy student; establishment of an Edward Gübelin Research Fund; reflections on Gübelin by Boyajian in his March 25 online GIA Insider report; and an editorial in the next issue of GIA’s journal Gems & Gemology by editor-in-chief Alice Keller.

Others are also expressing their tributes and sorrow. Pala International, the California gem company where Gübelin’s grandson works and the first U.S. organization to report his death, called him “one of our brightest pioneers in gemology” and “one of the industry’s true gentlemen.” Well-known gemologist Richard W. Hughes, of the American Gem Trade Association, assisted Gübelin in compiling a bibliography of his writings. In remarks on Pala’s Web site, Hughes called Gübelin a “Renaissance man—author, artist, filmmaker, traveler, poet—whose love of life always came through in his writings” and the “father of modern gemology. We are all his children.”

Gübelin, a leader in the international gemological movement from its start in the 1930s, died in his sleep at a hospital near Lucerne, Switzerland, where he was recuperating from heart surgery a few days earlier. He died two days before his March 16 birthday. His funeral was held March 21 at the Hofkirche in Lucerne.

An internationally renowned gemologist, author, and lecturer, Gübelin was the recipient of many industry awards for his accomplishments and writings. He is most famous for his pioneering work in photomicrography—taking pictures of gem-identifying inclusions through a microscope. One of his best-known books is Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, co-authored with famed gemologist John Koivula (volume 2 will be published this year). Koivula, following Gübelin’s death, noted his “always polite and professional” demeanor was balanced by “his fun-loving side and wonderful sense of humor.” Koivula called Gübelin “a truly remarkable man [who] lived a long, full, and exciting life.”

One of Gübelin’s last honors was induction into the prestigious League of Honor of the GIA in 2003, in recognition of a fund he set up for G&G to support its Most Valuable Article Award, named in his honor in 1997.

During his career, Gübelin authored several books and hundreds of papers. He wrote 57 articles for G&G alone, starting in 1940. The spring 2003 issue was dedicated to his 60-plus years of gemological accomplishments. He lectured at numerous industry conferences and events around the globe, and was awarded honorary memberships in almost every gemological association in the world.

Gübelin was born into a watchmaker family in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1913. He studied at the Zurich and Vienna Universities, 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 fledgling GIA and worked with early leaders in the gemological movement. He acquired the title of Certified Gemologist in 1939.

Returning to the family business, Gübelin began his later-famous work on gemstone inclusions and his many articles and books.

He retired from the family-run Gübelin Gem Lab in 1976, but colleagues in America said he kept a close association with it and continued to do research there.

Gübelin and his wife have five daughters, one of whom lives in the United States