THE Gemological Institute of America (GIA) 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.
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.