Shining Bright: Wilvy Sy Gübelin on Leading a Century-old Jewelry House and Creating the First Blockchain for Colored Gemstones - Lifestyle Asia

“Jewelry is so personal, you need to feel it on your skin and let it become a part of you.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of when Wilvy Sy Gübelin and her husband Raphael took over in leading the House of Gübelin, a Swiss, family-owned and -run firm. Founded in 1854, the company is known for its jewelry pieces, gemstone expertise, and watches.

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“My husband, his sister Sara, and I are now the sixth generation to helm the company,” Wilvy shares on being part of such a long-running family legacy. “I consider it a huge privilege as well as [a] pleasure to continue the family tradition and to be part of shaping the company for the future.”

Legacy of innovation

After her father-in-law offered Raphael to lead the company, the couple moved from the US to Switzerland. Since then, Gübelin has made technological advancements in the jewelry market, such as Provenance Proof, which launched in 2017.

This initiative provides a digital logbook for each emerald and colored gem. “The Provenance Proof is the first blockchain for colored gemstones and tracks the entire value chain from mine to end-consumer,” Wilvy elaborates.

The blockchain acts as an ID system for gems that meets the rising transparency demands of clients. “This summer, the journey of more than half a million gemstones from 50 countries could be traced thanks to the Provenance Proof Blockchain and there are more than 500 companies who contribute to increased transparency,” she adds.

“Transparency is becoming more and more important,” Wilvy shares her insight on clients’ changing attitudes toward jewelry. Going into her specific duties in the business, she shares, “I am responsible for VIPs and international relations.”

She adds that her work mostly deals with arranging personal viewings with clientele across different time zones. This includes consultations on bespoke jewelry creation, and “remaining in close contact with clients and our in-house Gübelin Jewellery atelier, as well as the gemstone purchasing department when searching for a particular and specific gem.”

Time to shine

“Every generation continues the legacy of the firm,” she shares while reflecting on their time so far in heading Gübelin. “Looking back to the 10-year anniversary of when Raphael took over the helm, Gübelin has since opened international locations, founded new business units and innovative services.”

This year, the firm expanded its digital services and opened its Virtual Salon to adapt to the pandemic. This allows clients to safely access Gübelin boutiques online and avail services from the comfort of their homes. “With the Virtual Salon,” Wilvy adds, “we remain in contact with our customers and can offer them competent and comprehensive consultation.”

They’ve also recently launched a new online course on Gübelin Academy, their Hong Kong based institute established in 2013 that focuses on sharing knowledge on gemology to the wider public. The Coloured Gem Professional: The Basicscourse was made specifically for digital instruction. “Numerous videos [that] share inspiration and knowledge while also granting exciting insights into the House of Gübelin,” Wilvy shares on the course’s content.

Eye for color

“I myself like jewelry sets featuring colored gemstones,” Wilvy remarks on her jewelry preference. “I am a person who loves colors. Luckily, colored gemstones come in a huge range of colors and varieties, perfect for people like me who love colors.”

She mentions the Dancing Dune emerald necklace as a highlight of hers. “This necklace is inspired by the inner world of a Brazilian emerald and combines transparency, ethics, and aesthetics,” Wilvy notes on the piece. She regards the necklace as a symbol of Gübelin’s dedication to transparency and ethical gem trade. With the Provenance Proof Blockchain, all the necklace’s gems can be traced back to sustainable mines in Minas Gerais and Greenland.

On other pieces she’s attracted to, Wilvy says she likes jewelry that can be more versatile, things that could be worn in different ways. This led her to buy pieces that fit the daily demands of her family life and work.

She uses Gübelin’s Blushing Beauty chandelier earrings as an example. These can be worn as classic ear-studs or more festively as chandelier earrings.

“Thanks to the sophisticated design, I can choose one pair of earrings that easily changes my look,” she elaborates. “Classic ear-studs for a business lunch and a more glamorous effect by adding the chandelier elements, such as when I attend an opening or a classical music event.”

For those uncertain on what jewelry to pick, Wilvy advises, “In my view, you should look for gemstones and jewelry designs that have a personal meaning to you and which you are excited about.”

“Jewelry is both personal and emotional,” she adds. “The jewelry will become part of your life, so you need to consider whether it will be a piece you wear daily, more regularly, or only on special occasions. Are you looking for a stand-alone piece, or will you be combining it with your existing collection?”

Wilvy cites women such as Elizabeth Taylor in representing how jewelry should complement both the wearer and the piece. “She wore her jewelry with ease and with love,” she declares. “Wear it comfortably and with confidence. Jewelry is so personal, you need to feel it on your skin and let it become a part of you.”

This story first came out in the December 2021-January 2022 issue of Lifestyle Asia.

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