By Ashley Bailey
, Wednesday, November 08, 2006
From GIA, Carlsbad, Calif. – The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) today lost one of its founding fathers as G. Robert Crowningshield, brilliant gemologist, legendary research scientist, and industry pioneer passed away at age 87 in New York.
Former vice president of the GIA Laboratory, Crowningshield is considered the father of modern gemological research in spectrometry. One of the original founders of the GIA Laboratory in New York, Crowningshield was a paramount scientist who established hard-hitting, results-oriented, ongoing research as a key tenet of the Institute. For over 55 years, he gave selflessly to GIA and its people, building a body of gemological knowledge personally and deliberately, gemstone by gemstone.
Tom Moses, senior vice president of the GIA Laboratory and Research said, “This is a sad day for people throughout GIA and the industry. We have been extremely privileged to work with such a great man for so long. He gave us his talent, his time, his intensity, his quest for perfection, his drive for precision, and we will be forever thankful.”
Crowningshield made thousands of significant contributions to the study of gems. His achievements helped lay the foundation of modern gemological research, instilled credibility in the jewelry business, and made Crowningshield one of the most respected and honored men in the industry.
His career was distinguished by an extensive list of “firsts,” including groundbreaking findings in the spot method of refractive index determination on Rayner and similar refractometers; spectroscope recognition of treated colored diamonds; a comprehensive study of gem-quality synthetic diamonds; and dyed jade. Crowningshield was also renowned for his expertise in nomenclature and is widely recognized for his contributions in that field, including an acclaimed 1983 treatise, “Padparadscha: What’s in a Name?”
He made fundamental advances in the understanding and identification of treated and synthetic diamonds; of colored stones such as tanzanite and amethyst, padparadscha sapphire and heat-treated corundum; and of natural and cultured pearls.
He also helped develop and teach the GIA diamond grading system, now the standard system worldwide. Along the way, he shared his wealth of practical experience in hundreds of articles, lectures and industry presentations. Crowningshield’s prodigious body of published work over five decades, much of it published in Gems & Gemology, included landmark articles on his discoveries and more than 1,000 entries in the Lab Notes section alone.
Crowningshield was the recipient of many prestigious industry awards including the American Gem Society’s Robert M. Shipley Award (1983), Modern Jeweler’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), and the American Gem Society Lifetime Achievement Award (2003).
In recognition of Crowningshield’s immeasurable contribution to the science of gemology, GIA in 1997 formally named its research facility the G. Robert Crowningshield Gemological Research Laboratory. Acknowledged as one of the finest gemological research centers in the world, it continues the tradition of scientific advancement begun by Crowningshield in areas of gem identification and detection. It also continues to build a vast compendium of gemological information on more than 100,000 gemstones in a growing database that began with Crowningshield’s own hand-drawn spectrographs of thousands of gemstones he personally identified.
In summing up Crowningshield’s contributions to gemology and to GIA, Tom Moses said, “He taught us how to look for the truth, and to find the core qualities in both gemstones and in people. He was an important man in our field, but he was also our friend, our teacher, and one of our leaders. He was brilliant. He was kind. He was a true gentleman. We will all miss Bob deeply.”
GIA and its leaders, employees, students, and alumni acknowledge their own immense respect for and deep gratitude to G. Robert Crowningshield, with whom it was their privilege to share more than five decades of friendship and collaboration.