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Gübelin: House of opulence

16 April 2018

By Bernardette Sto. Domingo   

‘Ornament of Flowers’ sapphire and diamond ring

‘Ancient Path’ sapphire ring

‘Ancient Path’ sapphire pendant

 

World-renowned brand Gübelin reinforces its irrefutable influence in today’s gemstone and jewellery industry through continuous developments in the gemmological, education, and jewellery design and manufacturing fronts.

Family-owned Swiss enterprise Gübelin is not resting on its laurels despite its enviable contribution to the gemstone and jewellery industry. On the contrary, it is constantly developing ways to further strengthen its operations, which span jewellery and timepiece manufacturing and retail (Gübelin AG and Gübelin Ateliers AG); Gübelin Gem Lab Ltd, a scientific gemstone laboratory recognised worldwide; and the Gübelin Academy.

A visionary at heart, sixth-generation jeweller and company president Raphael Gübelin steered his family’s company in a new direction when he took over the business more than a decade ago.

 

Gemstone testing at the Gübelin Gem Lab

 

New blood

Gübelin is prepared more than ever to meet new challenges, especially with the advent of technological advances and the emergence of a more discerning type of consumers, according to Raphael.

The company continues to break ground with the introduction of state-of-the-art traceability programmes for gemstones, ever-expanding gemmological courses and the creation of bespoke jewellery collections that celebrate gemstones’ unique characteristics.

One of the major changes Raphael initiated was building a jewellery brand. Gübelin has been making jewellery since 1920 and with its unmatched artistry and craftsmanship, the next logical step was to create a brand.

“A brand has to have a story that people can connect with. In our case, everything in our business revolves around inclusions,” he disclosed. “Fascinating inclusions inspired us to create enduring collections. That is now the pillar of our brand.”

With the creation of a high jewellery brand, Raphael consolidated Gübelin’s core businesses under one house, which further bolstered its expertise.

Gübelin offers a unique business proposition particularly through its high jewellery arm since it’s the only brand with its own established and globally recognised gemmological facility.

On the education front, Gübelin is also making waves through one-of-a-kind coloured gemstone courses done in an intensive, fast-track format. The frontline jewellery staff needs more than a technical gemmological education because they are “selling emotions,” noted Raphael.

“How do we incorporate emotions in jewellery retail? This is the idea behind the Gübelin Academy, which focuses on taking that gem lab knowledge and expertise, simplifying it by telling the story behind the stones and sharing it with the community,” he remarked.

Call for transparency

The company is likewise making strides in technology. Last year, the Gübelin Gem Lab launched the paternity test for emeralds – an innovative technology that can trace an emerald’s provenance and other relevant information across the supply pipeline. According to Raphael, this game-changing initiative was born out of consumers’ incessant clamour for transparency.

“We have to provide our clients with transparency. The tracer is a means to bring it to the market but it’s only the first step. That will change over the years rapidly,” he said.

A younger generation of buyers have also become partial to the origin of what they are buying and if it was sourced ethically and responsibly. Raphael said, “We have to show them that the person who made the jewellery piece they are purchasing was proud of his work.”

Gübelin is currently working on a paternity test for sapphires and rubies. It recently announced a partnership with technology enterprise Everledger to develop the Provenance Proof Blockchain for coloured gemstones aimed at further promoting transparency in the trade.

The project will provide a digital, decentralised ledger that tracks gemstones throughout their lifetime journey along the supply chain, from mine to end-consumer.

From the academy side, Gübelin introduced the Coloured Gem Professional Level 3 this year and expanded two of its classes in Shanghai in 2016. It is likewise planning to roll out classes in Guangzhou and Beijing, and further develop classes offered in Switzerland.

In the area of high jewellery, Gübelin said it will focus on gemstones with tracers and exceptional designs inspired by rubies.

“The need for transparency in the industry has become more pronounced because of millennial consumers. They like luxury but they don’t care whether it’s Italian or French jewellery. They are more interested in who made it and if the working conditions were decent. Millennials are a fast-moving group; they are fully connected so it’s important to be honest,” noted Raphael.

Gübelin President Raphael Gübelin