The origins of Swiss jeweller Gübelin can be traced to the fairytale marriage of a watchmaker’s daughter to his apprentice. When Jakob Josef Moritz Breitschmid, of Lucerne, gave his daughter Bertha’s hand in marriage to Eduard Jakob Gübelin in 1886, master and apprentice also became business partners. Thirteen years later, Gübelin, then aged 38, took over the business in the city’s Alpenstrasse.
The business is renowned for the high standard of its jewellery and gemstones, offering a wide range of gems and highly crafted pieces. With shops in Lucerne, St Moritz and Zurich, it ventured further afield to Geneva, Lugano and Basel in the 20th century, before turning to Asia in 2012, when it opened its first boutique in Kuala Lumpur, with a second shop opening in Hong Kong in 2013.
Gübelin is now headed by the sixth generation of the family, with Raphael Gübelin as CEO and his sister Sara Gübelin Mittlemann serving as a board member. Before joining the family business, Raphael studied finance and management and worked at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research. Bringing a fresh perspective to the business, he changed the brand’s original store concept to a more modern design that he calls a “classical living room concept.” His aim as CEO is to open more Gübelin Salons around the world and educate customers further on the brand’s gem expertise.
In addition to the retail jewellery business, Gübelin runs the Switzerland-based Gübelin Gem Lab, one of the world’s oldest and most respected international gem labs. Opened in the 1920s, it offers special gem authentication and analysis services to wholesalers, auction houses and members of royal households, as well as jewel collectors.
COLOUR EXPERT Raphael Gübelin; emerald ring in white gold; the first Gübelin store in Lucerne