Richard T. Liddicoat (1918–2002)


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Richard T. Liddicoat received numerous tributes during his lifetime, including the naming of the tourmaline species liddicoatite. But one honor stands above all: “Father of Modern Gemology.”

After completing his master’s degree in mineralogy at the University of Michigan, Liddicoat joined GIA in 1940 as assistant director of education. His early work on colored stones led to the publication of his Handbook of Gem Identification in 1947. After 12 editions, it remained one of the most respected textbooks in gemology. In 1952, he succeeded Robert Shipley as GIA’s executive director and became editor-in-chief of Gems & Gemology, a position he held for fifty years.

Richard T. Liddicoat
The Father of Modern Gemology

Liddicoat, who had long sought consistent standards for describing polished diamond quality, was the architect of GIA’s D-to-Z diamond grading system. The system was introduced in 1953, and its popularity in the global diamond industry set the stage for the first GIA Diamond Grading Reports, issued two years later.

Liddicoat coauthored first editions of The Diamond Dictionary (1960) and The Jewelers’ Manual (1964). He also expanded GIA’s educational offerings internationally, starting with a Japanese affiliate in 1971. Upon stepping down as GIA president in 1983, Liddicoat was named chairman of its board of governors, a position he held until his death in 2002.