By Brecken Branstrator
London—Pioneering British gemologist E. Alan Jobbins, who dedicated his career to groundbreaking research and teaching, died Feb. 9, according to the Society of Jewellery Historians.

For three decades, Jobbins’ served as curator of minerals and gemstones at the Geological Museum in London, where he was responsible for the extensive gemstone exhibitions, according to the Accredited Gemologists Association.

He also conducted several research projects—including a major study of East African garnets—and wrote the first papers detailing the structure and identification of synthetic opals, the discovery of a new mineral called magnesio-axinite, and the field study of the Barwell meteorite fall.

He took on several assignments throughout his career for the United Nations and the British Government, carrying out geological surveys in numerous countries, the AGA said.

Some of his most notable international achievements included setting up a gemological laboratory in Rangoon, Myanmar, and training the country’s first gemologists.

He turned his focus to China in 1988, initiating gemological training through new laboratory facilities at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan.

In the late 1980s, he was a member of the team that conducted the first comprehensive gemological examination of the English Crown Jewels, leading to the publication of “The Crown Jewels: The History of the Coronation Regalia in the Jewel House of the Tower of London.” 

In the U.K., he served as a gemological lecturer at the Sir John Cass College (now London Metropolitan University) for 32 years, an examiner for the Gemmological Association of Great Britain’s gemology examinations for 20 years (the organization from which he received his FGA in 1970), and editor of the Gem-A’s Journal of Gemmology for eight years.

The Accredited Gemologists Association honored him with its Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology in 2005, alongside gem and jewelry expert Antoinette Matlins.

Matlins told National Jeweler that since the year they won the award, “I’ve worked with many wonderful gemologists, but there are few who had Alan’s grasp of all facets of the field—mining, identification of materials old and new, types of treatments and their detection, as well as his amazing role in the area of education.

“But what was most notable in my opinion,” Matlins elaborated, “were two things: 1) his willingness to share his knowledge and to help wherever, and in whatever way, his knowledge could be useful, and 2) his delight in working with his students not just when they were students, but throughout their lives.”

Jobbins held several industry roles over his years in the gem trade, including executive member of the International Gemmological Conference, and past president of both the Society of Jewellery Historians and of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

He also was a founding organizer of the International Colored Gemstone Association.

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