Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2018 at 6:48 pm by LaLonde
Richard T. Liddicoat, 1918-2002
Since 1940, Richard T. Liddicoat’s contributions to gemological education, diamond quality grading, gem identification, and gemological research and instrument development have advanced the study of gemology throughout the world. As a former president of GIA, former Chairman of its Board of Governors, and former chief editor of Gems & Gemology for five decades, he has had a profound influence on the gem and jewelry industry.
Well, in my profession, there was a man who stood out above all others…Richard T. Liddicoat. I was lucky enough to go to school at GIA in the late 1970’s when Liddicoat was still working as the top dog at GIA, the Gemological Institute of America.
It was rumored that this guy could hold a gem in his hand tell you how much it weighed , what it was, what region of the world it was found, and could pinpoint the mine it came out of.
Now it seems to me that he wasn’t very accessible, he seemed very aloof. My stay at the Institute would be 6 months, consisting of 8 hour class days, 5 days a week. I figured out that for class time, it was the equivalent of about 3 ½ years of college time. That is what they call “crash” or “speed” learning…believe me, it works!
The reasoning behind this method of learning is that a jeweler in mid-America could afford to send an employee or son or daughter for 6 months to learn the new latest and greatest to better the industry, opposed to committing to 4 years of college.
Now, back to my original story. We had assignments each day that had to be completed for the following day. They generally consisted of 10 questions. One had to achieve a 70% average to pass. In doing one assignment, an interesting question came up. It read “Do you know of anyone in the jewelry industry who has been sued?” In my mind, I was thinking “I don’t even know the proper way to pick up a diamond with tweezers, much less know anyone involved in a jewelry lawsuit.”
So, I made up an answer!
Seems there was a jeweler once who left his office and was supposed to deliver a large diamond ring to a woman at her house. On his way, he ran into an old girlfriend who asked him to go dancing. Well, the jeweler had a false (hollow) heel in his shoe, so he put the diamond ring there for safekeeping. After dancing the night away, he had worn his heel down and caused the diamond to fracture and crack. When finally delivering the ring to the owner, she screamed and said “You’ve ruined my ring!”. She sued the jeweler, who lost his business, and now is a professional dancer!
Well, wouldn’t you know, I didn’t pass this assignment, and had to take it over again. Unbelievably, I got the same question again. Couldn’t believe it.
A jeweler wassupposed to deliver an expensive diamond to a client. As he left his office, he remembered that he had tickets to the ballgame that night. He gave the ring to a taxi driver and told him to deliver it to the woman’s home address. The taxi driver stole the ring, and the lady sued the jeweler for negligence. The jeweler lost his business and now drives a taxi.
Next thing I know, I’m in class and I look up to see my diamond instructor, Jim Lucey, talking to Richard Liddicoat, thee Richard Liddicoat. They were standing there pointing at me. They had smiles on their faces and Richard held his hand up as to wave at me.
I thought I had just seen the hand of God.
Written by Daniel J. LaLonde
© LaLonde Jewelers 2018