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The Swiss family firm of Gübelin is as well known today for its gemmological expertise as it is for its jewellery and fine watches.
Jakob Breitschmid opened his watch maker’s shop on the Pfistergrasse in Lucerne in 1854. He enjoyed a successful career and at some point in the late 1870s decided to take on an apprentice – a young man called Eduard Jakob Gübelin. Gübelin was born in East Switzerland in 1861 but subsequently moved to Lucerne and took up his position with the master craftsman Breitschmid. After time spent in Paris as a journeyman jeweller, Gübelin returned to Lucerne and re-joined his original teacher in the business. In 1886 Gübelin married his master’s daughter Bertha and became his father-in-law’s business partner before finally taking over the business completely in 1899 and renaming it House of Gübelin.
In 1903 they opened a boutique in the former Hotel d’Angleterre on the Schwanenplatz right on the shore of Lake Lucerne. In 1923 they opened their own jewellery workshops to be able to offer fine quality jewels designed and made in house. In the same year Gübelin’s son, Eduard Moritz, set up a small gemmological laboratory in order to test and assess the gemstones that the firm was going to use in its jewellery. This was the beginning of what is today one of the best known and most widely respected gemmological laboratories in the world.
In 1945 Eduard’s sons assumed responsibility for the business with Walter managing the day to day running of the business and the ateliers whilst his brother Eduard Josef looked after all aspects of the gems and laboratory. Eduard spent many years studying gemstones both in Europe and the USA, inventing instruments to further his research and becoming a pioneer in the art of photomicrography. He recorded the inner world of gems and the inclusions that aided identification and value assessments in a way no-one had done before. Today the Gübelin gemmological laboratory has branches in Hong Kong and New York as well as Lucerne and they provide trusted analysis and reports for a wide range of corporate clients.