Alumni Chapter

Golden Gate-California Chapter: Jade- China’s Gift to the World


Jade has been treasured by the Chinese for some 8,000 years. Yù (玉), the Chinese word for jade, is one of the oldest in the Chinese language; its pictograph is distinguished from the pictograph for “ruler” only by one dot.

Outside of China, people generally think of jade as the jadeite jade from Burma, where the finest quality is a vivid green. Within China, however, jade is a stone of an entirely different character, with the finest quality being white. Lotus Gemology’s Richard Hughes has been studying jade since he first visited Burma at age 19. He will offer a brief survey of the places jadeite and nephrite come from and then delve into the real Chinese jade, the true “Stone of Heaven.”

Hughes is one of the world’s foremost experts on precious stones. The author of several books and more than 160 articles on gems and gemology, his writings and photographs have appeared in a diverse range of publications. His latest book, “Ruby & Sapphire: A Gemologist’s Guide” (2017), is arguably the most comprehensive volume ever devoted to a single gem species.

Hughes has received numerous industry awards: co-winner of the 2004 Edward J. Gübelin Most Valuable Article Award from Gems & Gemology magazine; the Richard T. Liddicoat Journalism Award from the American Gem Society in 2005; and the 2010 Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology from the Accredited Gemologists Association. In 2013, the Association Française de Gemmologie (AFG) named Hughes as one of the 50 most important figures that have shaped the history of gems since antiquity, and in 2016 he was awarded a visiting professorship at Shanghai’s Tongji University.

Hughes resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he operates Lotus Gemology, with his wife, Wimon, and daughter, Billie.

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