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The Swiss Gemmological Institute is part of the Swiss Foundation for the Research of Gemstones (SSEF: Schweizerische Stiftung für Edelstein-Forschung) and works independently on a scientific basis. The SSEF foundation was founded by trade organisations (UBOS: Union de la Bijouterie et Orfèvrerie Suisse) on August 22nd 1972.
This Foundation comes under the aegis of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs. The SSEF is supervised by a foundation board with the members: Martin Häuselmann (President, Bern), Charles Abouchar (Geneva), Walter Balmer (Bern), Horst Edenhofer, Adrian Meister (Zürich), Christophe Stucki (Geneva), Frederic Torroni (Geneva), Ronny Totah (Geneva) and Melissa Wolfgang Amenc (Geneva). The laboratory is directed by Dr. M.S. Krzemnicki.
The function of the SSEF laboratory is to analyse precious stones and issue test reports for diamonds, coloured stones and pearls. It was recognised in 1978 by the World Jewellery Confederation – CIBJO. It is also a member of the International Colored Stone Association – ICA and the Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC).
All laboratory gemmologists have a scientific and gemmological education and work on a high level of experience and integrity. The laboratory is equipped with the most modern analytical instruments. This ensures that the authenticity of gemstones, origins, and possible treatments can be tested in the most scientific and reproducible manner.
After having worked for the benefit of the Swiss gemstone and jewellery trade from the beginning, the SSEF laboratory started offering its services also to private clients. Because our results are reliable, the laboratory soon gained international recognition.
Today, SSEF is one of the world’s leading gemmological labs, especially for high-end coloured gemstones, diamonds and pearls. SSEF provides independent expert advice in the field of precious stone analysis to a wide clientele. Among them are precious stone dealers, jewellers, auction houses and private customers from many countries. The SSEF laboratory primarily examines loose cut stones, but set stones in jewellery pieces are also tested. Test reports are written in English, French or German, with an option of providing Chinese versions too. However, the test reports issued are for identification only and do not provide a commercial evaluation.
Besides the above-described activities, the members of SSEF Laboratory are also engaged in research and education, collaborating with universities, gemmological laboratories and research institutions worldwide.
The Swiss Gemmological Institute is part of the Swiss Foundation for the Research of Gemstones (SSEF: Schweizerische Stiftung für Edelstein-Forschung). The SSEF foundation was founded by trade organisations (UBOS: Union de la Bijouterie et Orfèvrerie Suisse) on August 22nd 1972.
SSEF has been the custodian of the original CIBJO Diamond Master Set C1 since 1980. We have been setting standards in diamond research and certification since.
George Bosshart, formerly of SSEF, was the first gemmologist to ever record low-temperature UV-Vis and IR spectra of the famous ‘Dresden Green’ diamond.
Significant contribution to scientific characterisation of Kashmir sapphire.
The SSEF spotter is developed and brought to the market as a simple means of identifying type II diamonds.
SSEF achieves a breakthrough by coming up with a method for identifying HPHT treatment of diamonds.
A blue-diamond tester, helping to identify type IIb diamonds, is developed and brought to the market.
SSEF develops the LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) method for Be-treatment detection of sapphires and is the first laboratory to offer this reliable identification service to clients.
We develop micro X-ray computerised tomography as a method for separating natural and cultured pearls. We were the first gemmological laboratory in the world to offer this as a customer service.
SSEF announces a breakthrough in succesfully extracting DNA from pearls and thereby enabling DNA fingerprinting of pearls.
SSEF unveils the ASDI instrument (Automated Spectral Diamond Inspection), the first industrial scale automated solution for keeping synthetic diamond melee out of the supply chain.
SSEF moves to new facilities and inaugurates state of the art lab facilities in Basel.
SSEF introduces GemTOF testing to gemmology.
SSEF becomes first gem lab in the world to introduce radiocarbon age dating of pearls as a service to clients.
SSEF launches GemTrack.
SSEF introduces DNA fingerprinting for pearls and precious corals.
SSEF introduces free online courses on major gems in English, French and simplified Chinese.
SSEF celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Our dedication to scientific research is an important foundation to our expertise and reliability in gemstone testing and certification. We have contributed to a number of important developments in gemmology since 1972. We remain committed to pursuing research projects in collaboration with universities, laboratories and companies to advance gemmological knowledge. Research findings enrich the gemmological courses we offer and have largely contributed to our expertise as one of the leading gemmological laboratories in the world.
Our emphasis on research is not only to publish in reputed international scientific journals but also to share findings with members of the trade and consumers in the form of popular publications and presentations.
Current & ongoing research programs
- Analytical instrumentation for synthetic diamond and diamond treatment detection
- Developing technology for assisted diamond grading
Origin determination of gemstones
- Origin determination of ruby, sapphire and other gemstones using GemTOF
- Research on spinel from worldwide occurrences
- Paraiba tourmalines
- Detection of heat treatment in corundum using zircon inclusions and Raman microprobe.
- Developing new methods (e.g. tomography) to separate natural from cultured pearls
- Age dating and DNA fingerprinting of pearls
- Colour authenticity of pearls
Dr. Michael S. Krzemnicki, FGA – Director of SSEF
Michael has been with SSEF since February 1998. Following his tenure as director of education, he became director of the SSEF laboratory in June 2009. He is involved in gemstone testing, education, and management of the laboratory. Dr Krzemnicki holds a Master’s degree in Mineralogy and received his PhD in 1996 from Basel University (Switzerland). He received his FGA Diploma in January 1998. For many years he has been lecturing in gemmology at the University of Basel, where he is a Privatdozent (PD). He is a fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and member of the scientific board of the Swiss Gemmological Society SGG. He is also on the executive committee of the International Gemmological Conference (IGC). A selection of his publications can be found here.
Victoria de la Soujeole, FGA
Victoria joined SSEF in 2015 after working several years in various jewellery maisons and auction houses in Geneva, Paris and London. She completed her FGA diploma in 2022.
She assists Dr. Michael Krzemnicki in his management duties and oversees SSEF’s day to day operations.
Alexandra Kokkinopulos – Head of Administration
Alexandra is head of administration, joining SSEF in 2011. She has a degree in business administration and previously worked for several companies in the Basel region. She is responsible for accounting, client contacts and general administration. She works with Ariela, Özlem, Sonja and Véronique in the administration team.
Judith Braun – Head of Analytics
Judith joined SSEF as an analytical scientist in 2012. She previously worked as a laboratory head at UMICORE and as a specialist for ICP and X-ray techniques. She now does pearl radiographies and micro X-ray computerised tomography for pearls at SSEF. She also operates instruments such as ED-XRF, UV-Vis, FTIR, Raman microspectrometry, and GemTOF. She provides gemmologists the chemical and spectral results they require for the identification of gemstones. She is joined by Gina, Hannah, Martina, Susanne and Tiziano in the Analytical department.
Dr. Markus Wälle
Markus joined SSEF in 2023. He is responsible for GemTOF – a state-of-the-art LA-ICP-Time Of Flight-MS platform at SSEF and also works as a research scientist at SSEF.
Dr. Hao Wang
Hao joined SSEF in autumn 2015 and is now working as a research scientist. He obtained his PhD at ETH Zurich in 2013 developing LA-ICP-MS methods. Currently, Hao is mainly responsible data management, digitalization , statistics and a range of different research projects.
Jean-Pierre Chalain, DUG – Head of Diamond Department & Deputy Director SSEF
Jean-Pierre has been with SSEF since July 1994 and is currently director of the diamond department. He completed his Diploma of Gemmology at the University of Nantes in 1992. His main working fields in the laboratory are colourless and coloured diamonds, but he is also involved with the testing of coloured stones and pearls. Jean-Pierre is a delegate of Switzerland at the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO).
Ly joined SSEF in 2013. He is head of small diamonds quality assessment and also works on grading of large diamonds. Furthermore, he is an ASDI instrument specialist.
Julien has been with SSEF since March 2008. He is head of large diamond grading and also a specialist in the quality control of small diamonds. He is also involved in the teaching of diamond courses at SSEF.
Dr. Michael Mintrone
Michael joined the diamond department at SSEF in 2022. He holds a Master’s in Earth Sciences from the Jean Monnet University of Saint-Etienne (France). He holds a Ph.D. from ETH Zürich that focused on the Petrology, Geochemistry, and Rheology of partially molten rocks during orogenic processes. Michael principally used trace elements composition and U-Pb dating on zircons to constrain geological processes. He is currently working in the diamond department as a research scientist.
Dr. Tashia Dzikowski, FGA – Head of Education
Tashia joined SSEF in February 2014, and is currently head of education. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences at the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Canada), followed by both her Master of Science (MSc) and PhD in Geological Sciences at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada). Her PhD research was on the origin of ruby and sapphire in marble from two different localities in Canada. During her PhD, she was also a lecturer at the University of British Columbia where she taught an introductory course called Gold and Gems. She completed her FGA diploma whilst at SSEF.
Pierre Lefèvre, MSc, DUG – Head of Gem Testing
Pierre joined SSEF as a gemmologist in August 2005 and is head of gemstone testing at SSEF. He holds a Master’s in mineralogy from Liège University in Belgium, having completed his studies in 2003. In parallel, he followed courses at the “Société Belge de Gemmologie” in Brussels, and received the FEEG Diploma (Federation of European Education in Gemmology) in 2003. In 2005 he completed his studies on gemstone treatments with a DUG Diploma (Diplome Universitaire de Gemmologie à Nantes, France). From 2003 to 2005, he was lecture assistant at the University of Liège, Belgium.
Dr. Wei Zhou, FGA
Wei joined SSEF as a gemmologist in April 2011. She holds a Bachelor in gemmology from the China University of Geosciences (Beijing) and a Master in mineralogy from the same institution. She completed her PhD in 2011 at the Institute of Mineralogy and Geochemistry at the University of Freiburg in Germany. She completed her FGA Diploma in 2013.
Alexander Klumb, MSc, FGA
Alexander joined SSEF in 2011. He has a Bachelor in Geosciences from the University of Basel and a Master in Geosciences from the same university, and obtained his FGA diploma. He works for SSEF as a gemmologist.
Chiara Parenzan, MSc, GG, FGA
Chiara first joined SSEF in 2007, and then again in 2018 as a gemmologist. She took her G.G. in 2004 and completed her M.Sc. in Mineralogy from the University of Bologna (Italy) with a thesis in petrography in 2006. She completed her FGA Diploma in 2022.
Michael Rytz, MSc
Michael Rytz has been with SSEF since 2015 and is working as a gemmologist. He completed his MSc thesis at the University of Basel on chrysoberyl from different deposits.
Carole Lachavanne, MSc, FGA
Carole joined SSEF in 2019 and is currently working as a gemmologist. She has a Bachelor in Geosciences from the University of Basel and completed a Masters in Geology at the University of Bern. She completed her FGA in 2023.
Luc has been with SSEF since 2007, and is responsible for the photo department which ensures that high-quality photos of items submitted to SSEF are taken. This includes photo editing techniques and the production of SSEF reports and imagery for Premium Appendices.He is joined by Alice in the photo department.
Thomas is responsible for the production of reports at SSEF. This includes preparation of SSEF’s reports, quality control and activating validation features (such as Prooftag and MySSEF) of reports. He is joined by Gideon in the production department.
Dr. Akitsugu Sato, FGA
Akitsugu joined SSEF in 2023. He is currently responsible for the management of the SSEF Collections. He holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from University of Tsukuba (Japan), MBA from University of Michigan (USA) and completed his FGA Diploma in 2022.
Dr. Laurent E. Cartier, FGA
Laurent joined SSEF in 2010 and is Head of Special Initiatives at SSEF. He holds a Masters in Earth Sciences from Basel University and completed his FGA Diploma in 2008. He holds a PhD from Basel University that focused on pearl farming and pearl traceability issues. He is a lecturer for Gemmology at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and an affiliated associate professor at the University of Delaware (USA). He is a co-founder of the Sustainable Pearls project and also a co-founder of the Gemstones & Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub. He is actively involved in the Swiss Gemmological Society (SGG) and the International Gemmological Conference (IGC). He is involved in different project management, research, and teaching activities at the SSEF. A selection of his publications can be found here.
Prof. Dr. Henry A. Hänni, FGA
Prof. Dr. Henry A. Hänni is a senior research associate with SSEF. He was the director of SSEF from 1990-2009. He received his doctorate in Mineralogy from the University of Basel in 1980 and earned the title of professor in 1996 from the same university. He received his FGA Diploma in 1978. He has been regularly teaching gemmology courses at Basel and Lausanne universities for three decades. Prof. Hänni has published over 150 articles on gemstones and analytical techniques in numerous journals.
Dr. Walter A. Balmer, G.G., MBA
Walter obtained his M.Sc., in Earth Sciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich with a major in Petrology-Mineralogy and Geophysics in May 2001. He completed his Graduate Gemologist studies at GIA Carlsbad the same year. In December 2011, he completed his Ph.D. studies on the “Genesis and Trace Element Composition of Rubies from Marble-Hosted Deposits in Morogoro, Tanzania”, at Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Geology in Bangkok. From 2002 until 2005 he was a senior staff gemologist in the Gubelin Gem Laboratory in Luzern. Post-Gubelin, Walter focused on lecturing at both Kasetsart University and at the Gem & Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT), the latter in his role as a research consultant. He has widely published and presented research in gemmological journals and at conferences worldwide.
Dr. Bertalan Lendvay
Bertalan is a research associate with SSEF. He holds an MSc in Biology and a Ph.D. in Horticultural Sciences. He has worked on genetic analysis of low copy number DNA samples originating from subfossil plant remains, tropical wood, and herbarium specimens at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research (WSL). At the forensic genetics research group of the Institute of Legal Medicine at the University of Zurich, his aim is to develop and validate quasi non-destructive genetic analysis methods to determine the species identity of pearls and corals processed for jewelry. These methods will be novel tools to enhance traceability and ultimately the conservation of vulnerable and valuable marine resources.
Dr. Joana B. Meyer
Joana is a research associate with SSEF. She holds a Biology Masters from Lausanne University and a PhD from ETH Zurich where she researched soil microorganisms and plant-bacterial interactions. She is an expert in DNA fingerprinting techniques in a range of materials and organisms.
Kathia Pinckernelle, MPhil, FGA
Kathia holds a Master of Philosophy in Ancient Greek and Roman jewellery from Glasgow University. She completed her FGA Diploma in 2005 and worked at Christie´s Geneva and London as Cataloguer and Specialist. She then worked in publishing and as an English teacher in Jordan and Moscow before returning to Geneva to join Cartier´s Tradition department, buying and researching vintage Cartier pieces. She now teaches the history of jewellery at the Haute École d’Art et de Design (HEAD) in Geneva and at the SSEF. She also curates the SSEF Jewellery Collection, illustrating the development of jewellery design throughout the ages.