The Dr. Eduard Gübelin Research Scholarship 2021 goes to Sebastian Schmidt for his research project on oxygen isotopes in gem corundum


Sebastian Schmidt was awarded this yearʼs scholarship from the House of Gübelin for his research project on the development of reference materials for gem corundum. Each year, an outstanding young scientist project from mineralogy, gemmology or related fields is awarded the Dr. Eduard Gübelin Research Scholarship.

Dr. Eduard Gübelin Research Scholarship Research Scholarship

The Dr. Eduard Gübelin Research Scholarship is a grant awarded annually by the Dr. Eduard Gübelin Association for Research & Identification of Precious Stones, a non-profit entity of the House of Gübelin, to an innovative research project in gemmology, geology, materials sciences or other related fields of research in the natural sciences. 

Contribution to basic research

With his research project “New oxygen isotope reference materials for gem corundum with an application to detrital sapphire from the Eifel, Germany” Sebastian Schmidt prevailed over a number of other projects submitted. Sebastian Schmidt works for the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. His research results will provide a core contribution to isotope geology and geochemistry.

His project examines the development of reference materials for measuring oxygen isotopes in gem corundum. The composition of oxygen isotopes is a key geochemical indicator. SIMS (secondary ion mass spectrometry) analyses are indispensable for understanding the intra-crystalline zonation of the samples and reliably determining their origins. But the well-characterised research materials necessary to ensure the comparability and precision of the isotope analyses are currently lacking. The project is being promoted in order to help fill this gap. 

The samples analysed in the course of the research project will then be shared with SIMS laboratories wordwide. This will allow the global research community to directly access the research results. 

The Scientific Committee of the scholarship, a top-notch jury, consisting of eight scientists from all over the world, once again selected this year’s research project. In its choice, the scientific committee especially emphasised the importance of reference material for gemmology, geology and materials sciences.

Promoting research

Raphael Gübelin explains: “Our House has always believed in promoting and sharing knowledge because it is very important to us. With this scholarship, we are supporting research to allow new findings and innovations. We want to contribute to supporting the work of young scientists.”

The research scholarship is endowed with USD 30,000. Even more valuable is the support the award winner receives. Sebastian Schmidt will be exchanging knowledge with experts from the Gübelin Gem Lab. In addition, he will receive access to the Gübelin Reference Stone Collection, which contains over 28,000 gemstones from every commercially relevant mine. For this purpose, the gemmological laboratory also uses chemical analyses such as LA-ICMPS (laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry). “We look forward to working together with Sebastian Schmidt on this project which promises key findings in basic research”, says Dr. Daniel Nyfeler, Managing Director of the Gübelin Gem Lab.