Obit: Edward Gübelin, leader of international gemological movement

Dr. Edward J. Gübelin, a leader in the international gemological movement from its start in the 1930s, died March 14 in Lucerne, Switzerland. He was 91. Details about his death and funeral arrangements were still pending at press time.

An internationally renowned gemologist, author, and lecturer, Gübelin was the recipient of many acclaimed industry awards for his manifold accomplishments and writings. He is most famous for his pioneering work in photomicrography—taking pictures of identifying inclusions through the microscope. One of his best-known books is Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones (1986, co-authored with John Koivula).

One of his last honors was induction into the prestigious League of Honor of the Gemological Institute of America in 2003, in recognition of a fund he established for the Institute’s professional journal, Gems & Gemology, to support its Most Valuable Article Award, named in his honor in 1997.

During his career, Gübelin authored many books and hundreds of papers. He wrote his first of 57 articles for G&G in 1940. His last was published in the spring 2003 issue, which was dedicated to Gübelin’s 60-plus years of gemological accomplishments.

Gübelin has lectured at numerous industry conferences and events around the world, and has been awarded honorary memberships in almost every gemological association in the world.

He 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 to study at the fledgling GIA, where he was one of its first resident students 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.