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‘Father of Modern Gemology’ Honored on Centennial

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(PRESS RELEASE) CARLSBAD, CA – Anyone who loves gemology recognizes the importance of the life and legacy of Richard T. Liddicoat, the man who changed forever how gems are evaluated, studied and appreciated. March 2, 2018, marks the centennial birthday of the “Father of Modern Gemology,” and GIA (Gemological Institute of America) will celebrate his achievements at the 2018 GIA International Gemological Symposium at GIA’s World Headquarters in Carlsbad, California Oct. 7-8. 

Liddicoat joined GIA in 1940 as assistant director of education after graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in geology and master’s in mineralogy. He and his GIA colleagues established the universal standards for evaluating the quality of diamonds – the 4Cs of diamond quality and the International Diamond Grading SystemTM – that paved the way for informed consumer choice and protection, and that to this day help ensure the public’s trust in gems and jewelry. 

“Richard T. Liddicoat – RTL – was able to connect with so many people – students, colleagues, clients, the public – not only as president of the Institute but as a mentor, visionary, a friend and a brilliant gemologist,” said Susan Jacques GIA president and CEO. “Everyone at GIA works every day to carry on RTL’s legacy and the mission that he exemplified.” 

Liddicoat documented much of GIA’s research and standards in books, such as the Handbook of Gem Identification, The GIA Jeweler’s Manual and the Diamond Dictionary, and articles in trade journals. His passion for education eventually led to expanding GIA’s education programs, including offering gemology classes in Japan. He became executive president of GIA in 1952 and was editor-in-chief of GIA’s quarterly journal Gems & Gemology for 50 years. 

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“Most importantly, Mr. Liddicoat was eager to share his vast knowledge; he had time for every person in the Institute. He had a self-effacing style that made everyone comfortable around him,” said Tom Moses, GIA’s executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer. “His well-rounded knowledge of the industry and business in general are less known.”

Liddicoat’s more than 60 years of service to the gem and jewelry industry has been honored in many ways. He received numerous lifetime achievement awards and honorary memberships from organizations such as the American Gem Society, the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and the American Gem Trade Association. Dr. Pete J. Dunn and his colleagues at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History identified liddicoatite – a calcium-rich lithium tourmaline – as a distinct mineral in 1977 and chose its name in recognition of Liddicoat’s many contributions to gemological knowledge and education. The Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library & Information Center at GIA’s World Headquarters was named in his honor in 1989. 

To learn more about his remarkable contributions, please visit here

GIA’s 2018 International Gemological Symposium offers expert presentations, panel sessions and networking opportunities to scientists and business leaders from all areas of the gem and jewelry industry. To learn more visit here.   


The ‘Father of Modern Gemology’ Richard T. Liddicoat. Pictured to the left looking through a DiamondScope in 1946. Photo courtesy of Leonard Charles & Associates Inc. Pictured to the right with a slice of liddicoatite (10 mm tall), a species of tourmaline named after him in 1977 in honor of his leadership in the field of gemology. Photo © GIA and Harold & Erica Van Pelt

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