Robert Ambord of Gübelin: Deeply inspired
Entrenched in heritage
Founded in 1854, Swiss jewellery atelier Gübelin is world-renowned for its hand-crafted exquisite creations and timepieces that seamlessly combine simplicity and timelessness with its magnificent gemstones. The Gübelin Gem Lab was pioneered by Dr. Eduard Josef Gübelin in 1923 to test the authenticity of gemstones, and its Gemmological Reports have been relied upon by jewellery collectors and royal families globally for independent opinions about their gems.
We sat down with Robert Ambord, Artistic Director of Jewellery and Managing Director of Gübelin Ateliers, to talk about the house's "Deeply Inspired" collection that is based on Dr. Eduard Gübelin's inclusion of stones he had researched on over 50 years ago.
On "Deeply Inspired" as a theme for the collection:
It's very exciting for us because we have a true story and this theme isn't just a marketing campaign. "Deeply Inspired" gives you an idea of something—to create or the beauty of something deep inside. Dr. Gübelin was actually a famous pioneer within the gemological world and he wrote a lot of books. He was the master of the inclusion pictures over 50 years ago; he found that every stone has all these inclusions and all these secrets. The inclusions tell us a story and information of where the stone came from and more. If we take a stone, such as a tourmaline, you'll see a whole other world through the inclusion.
Mr. Gübelin was inspired by the inclusion and saw gardens in the green stone, the deep sea in the blue stone, glowing ember in the red stone, and so on. Raphael Gübelin (CEO of the House of Gübelin & 6th Generation family member) came into my office one day and said, "I think we have to have a true story—since the star of Gübelin is the gemstone, why don't we take inspiration out of this stone?" My first impression was, "That's impossible, it's not that easy. It's probably easier to say you're inspired by flowers and birds." But he said, "Let's take it deeper." After a while we realised that there is a way and I think it's a fantastic story as the idea actually does belong to our roots and heritage.
On the theme's translation to actual creations:
In the green world, you'd find natural elements. But this inclusion is like an art painting, it's from an emerald. We took the focus from that, and sketched it out. The green is connected and is translated to the piece. This particular inclusion is from this book here (Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones), not from any other stone out there. In a green world, like a forest, you'd find all other colours such as blue and red, which explains why the rest of the lineup is made from different stones, yet with the same inspiration. The deep sea is inspired from the inclusion of a sapphire. Natural elements belong to the world, which explains the names of each collection or line: mystical garden, the glowing jellyfish, and so on.
On the challenges with this inspiration:
It's not easy to be inspired from an inclusion. We're not a fashion brand nor are we focused in trends; we're more classic and the star of our brand is always a gemstone. It requires an understanding. Our customers are sophisticated and gem connoisseurs—they are in love with gemstones. Timelessness in important, classic means it isn't boring, it's something interesting and detailed. It's a very difficult task to achieve when it comes to creating a jewellery piece.
On the Masterpiece of the collection and ruby as a symbol of the house:
We don't create a lineup for the masterpiece collection as it is exclusive in that sense. In this particular ruby we we found this inclusion that resembles a close-up of a dragonfly's wings. Our goldsmith spent over 900 hours on this beautiful piece—it's flexible and you can wear it as a brooch if you removed it. You can either wear it as a diamond necklace, or a pendant, or as a brooch separately.
Rubies are the stones for kings if you trace back in history. Ruby means love and passion, and is a symbol for Gubelin's new jewellery brand. So you'll notice a small ruby incorporated in all designs of ours. It's almost cute, if you think about it.
On the brand's message with this collection:
We're actually a small company. We're not mass luxury and our understanding of luxury is clear and unique. We have one or two elements we like to focus on, not a thousand elements all at one go. It's difficult to find natural beautiful stones and we have high quality standards so we aren't about creating pieces very quickly. For me it's important that customers realise that we take our history with us to the future. That's an important message and it isn't as easy to understand for them. We don't want to sell out, we want to give them an understanding.
On his personal take on inclusions:
The most interesting thing for me, when I look at an inclusion, is that it's a complete other world in there. It's from Mother Nature and we realise how perfect nature is when presented in a combination of colours, whether from a butterfly's wings or something else. When we ourselves put colours together, sometimes it doesn't work out as it clashes. But when Mother Nature puts it together, it works! In our minds, colour is subjective. Nobody had this chance to see these inclusions, and now with this collection, the world gets to see it.