In Memoriam: G. Robert Crowningshield

It was truly a room of Who’s Who at the University Club of New York last night, there to honor one of the world’s greatest gemologists, G. Robert Crowningshield. Crowningshield, former Gemological Institute of America vice president and one of the first five gemologists who helped establish the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory in New York, passed away Nov. 8, 2006 at the age of 87.

Crowningshield’s vast list of gemological firsts, his many accomplishments, teachings, and writings were overshadowed by an evening filled with fond memories of his humble and gracious manner–”a true gentleman and gentle man.”

Tom Moses, now senior vice president of GIA, presented a very heartfelt oration on his mentor and friend. While Crowningshield’s last years of failing health prevented him from going to the lab, he was always asking Tom about what gems were seen and how it was going. Moses finished his presentation by speaking directly to Crowningshield the very words Crowningshield would say to him at the end of every day, “see you buddy.”

Among the many friends and colleagues who came forward to reminisce were Doug Parker, Lazar Wolfe, Ralph Esmerian, Laurence Krashes for his father Bert, and Eddy Elzas. Parker shared what it was like working with a man who was always gemologically right and who never made you feel like you were second best. Wolfe spoke of the man who was always willing to teach and be taught. Esmerian told of his first days in the gem business, pulling Crowningshield’s attention away from his father’s world collection of sapphires, only to present Central Park mica for Bob to examine—and Crowningshield did, for equal time. Bert Krashes wrote of his working relationship with a true gentleman, while Elzas looked back at how he and Crowningshield both held a love for beautiful fancy colored diamonds.

The evening made you smile, it made you laugh, it made you cry. Crowningshield touched many hearts and leaves a legacy for GIA that will live forever.