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260 million years before our time: before this unimaginably long time for us human beings, there were huge vulcanic eruptions in the territory of today‘s Hunsrück from the Nahe River to the Saar River. Huge streams of lava flowed out and covered hunderts of square kilometers. At some point. After many thousands of years, vulcanism ceased. Then hot, hydrous solutions penetrate the solidified basaltic rock, often rich on bubbles. Slowly the water evaporates and whatever was dissolved now crystallizes. Gemstones are formed for which Idar-Oberstein and its surroundings are famous even today: beautiful Agates banded in various colors, colorful Jaspers, Amethysts and many other minerals.
After this period it is quiet for a long time, plants colonize the lava rocks and life slowly returns. Dinosaurs and many other animals populate the valleys of the Hunsrück mountains range which originally reached a few thousand meters into the sky.

Approx. 3000 years B.C.: first human settlement of the Hunsrück by the Celts.


Local history (A.D.)

Around 1400: first mining of domestic gems and their processing with the help of water power on sandstone wheels during the late Middle Ages.

Since 1830: gemstone sources decrease. Therefore people of the barren and poor Hunsrück emigrate to Rio Grande do Sul in the south of Brazil, which has the largest deposits of Agates in the world until today.

Since 1840: first auctions of Brazilian agates in Idar-Oberstein and in the following years many new cutting mills run by water power are built. Mainly Quarzes, such as Agate, Jasper, Rock crystal, Amethyst and Citrine, are cut.

Waterwheel powered gem cutting mills near Idar-Oberstein (around 1900) 🔎
Waterwheel powered gem cutting mill (outside)
Waterwheel powered gem cutting mill (inside)

Company history:

1875: Peter Ruppenthal opens a workshop for engraving gemstones in Leisel near Idar-Oberstein.

1890: after getting into the export business the company A. Ruppenthal is founded. The assortment gets expanded and includes dealing with technical stones (such as mortar, spatula, dental instruments, etc.) and also gemstones for costume jewelry factories. Trade is booming since 1880 due to the great Opal deposits in Australia.

1895: direct export of the so-called African money (red agate, carnelian) to Senegal and Nigeria in West Africa, black-white agates to Khartoum and Ondurman in Sudan in East Africa as well as to Medina, Mecca and Jeddah in Arabia.

1912: reestablishment of the company A. Ruppenthal by Albert Ruppenthal. Especially after World War I export trade (gemstone necklaces, agate marbles, etc.) to the Far East, England and the USA expands. After 1920 other and more hard gemstones such as tourmaline and topaz from Brazil or sapphires from Australia are also included.

1947: Paul Ruppenthal becomes partner and continues to run the company alone after his father passes away 1959.

1963: new building in Mainzer Str. 104 with many show- and sale rooms, big cutting shops for smooth-cutting and facetting, as well as diamond cutting, and a goldsmith workshop.

1970: the sons Albert and Michael (the 4th generation) become partners. Great expansion of the company due to many domestic and foreign sales agencies as well as buying offices in Japan,Thailand and Hong Kong.

1992: Paul Ruppenthal, who made the company to one of the world‘s most renown and largest gemstone companies, dies in November.

1994, 2006: the sons of Albert Ruppenthal, Roman Ruppenthal 1994 and David Ruppenthal 2006 enter the company (the 5th generation). Continued strong presence at trade fairs, special sales days in the company‘s offices as well as fairs in Idar-Oberstein.

1999: expansion of the business due to internet sale (only to the expert trade). This proves to be an important support for the company and is constantly being expanded.

2003: Albert Ruppenthal becomes sole owner of the company. Michael Ruppenthal leaves the company and takes over several companies belonging to A. Ruppenthal KG.

Peter Ruppenthal
Engraving from Peter Ruppenthal
Albert Ruppenthal
Paul Ruppenthal


Today only higher quality gemstones are being cut in Idar-Oberstein and surrounding. Inexpensive or small calibrated stones, beads for gemstone strings or simple engravings are usually cut in Asia (mainly in India, Taiwan or China) today due to low wages. The local industry has not been able to compete here for a long time. On the other hand, quality cuts and fine engravings are still a speciality of Idar-Oberstein. Overall, the trade has expanded more strongly than before and that always was and still is the case with our company.

And something which has always been and will probably always be:
worldwide and international gemstone trade across all borders.