Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bits & Pieces: Hughes Resigns; Schon publishes a new book on Modernism

Hughes Resigns from AGTA

Richard W. Hughes the peripatetic gemologist/author and sometime journalist has handed in his resignation as Gemological Administrator at the AGTA Gemological Testing Center . As of September Hughes will be heading back to Bangkok where he worked for 15 years before moving back to the U. S. For the past several years Hughes has been a lab gemologist with the AGTA-GTC. "I will be working with Loretta Castoro at Hughes said in a recent interview. (image right: Richard W. Hughes, used with permission)

Hughes is a gemologist well known for his expertise in ruby and sapphire as well as for his outspoken views and freewheeling "take no prisoners" journalistic style also maintains a website: that is an excellent resource for anyone interested in ruby and sapphire.

Hughes burst on the U. S. gem scene in 1997 with the publication of his seminal
Ruby and Sapphire. Hughes book is the best most comprehensive, readable and informative book ever written on the subject. It has gone through two editions and is currently out of print. Ruby and Sapphire remains in high demand and with internet prices currently topping $200.00 I asked Hughes when we might expect the revised edition. "When its finished", he said, "don't hold your breath."

Book Review:

Form & Function, American Modernist Jewelry, 1940-1970 by Marbeth Schon
Schiffer Publishing, 2008

This is Schon's second book on the topic of modernist jewelry. For those unfamiliar with the genre, the modernist jewelry or wearable art movement might be best understood within the context of a second American Arts & Crafts Movement---a tradition welded together with The Bauhaus and the Beat Generation. It had its birth in both San Francisco and New York in the early 1940s with the formation of The San Francisco Metal Arts Guild and Craftsmen's Equity which was founded in Greenwich Village in the mid-1940s

Most modernists eschewed gold and platinum in favor of less-precious silver and copper and sought to bring back the intimate relationship between the hand-worker and the craft-object. Alexander Calder is, perhaps, the movement's most famous participant.
This book, together with Schon's first effort: Modernist Jewelry 1930-1950, The Wearable Arts Movement constitute the only truly comprehensive treatment of this, as yet, unmapped genre.

Schon's latest book puts a face to the names of the members of the movement. The book contains excellent short biographies as well as pictures of the movement's most important personalities; Margaret De Patta, Art Smith, Paul Lobel and Peter Maccarrini as well as dozens of minor practitioners. A section on hallmarks will be of great interest to dealers and collectors. Schon also discusses the philosophical foundations of the movement and her photos depict a broad range of examples of some of the best jewelry produced by its practitioners. Lively and well written, this book is a must have for collectors and dealers interested in jewelry of this period.

With the auction galleries finally waking up to American Modernism as a true home grown art and crafts movement and with artist-jewelers like Smith, Lobel and De Patta and Calder commanding steep prices, these two books are bound to be in great demand.

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Krystyna said...

Richard Hughes working for a shopping network? I despair. :(

Anonymous said...

NO DOUBT RWH's move to GEMS TV will bring justifiable respectibility to this TV marketer and force the others to take a serious look at their programs.

With the fraud perpertrated by so many, Dick's participation will assure that repsentation are, finally, believable. Since multitudes are buying from the TV venues, that part of the trade needs trustworthy anchors of RHW's staure to assure a high level of integrity.

Anonymous said...

NO DOUBT RWH's move to GEMS TV will bring justifiable respectibility to this TV marketer and force the others to take a serious look at their programs.

With the fraud perpertrated by so many, Dick's participation will assure that repsentation are, finally, believable. Since multitudes are buying from the TV venues, that part of the trade needs trustworthy anchors of RHW's staure to assure a high level of integrity.

Richard W. Wise said...

Krystyna & Anonymous,

Seems like these two comments represent the extreme poles of opinion.

Dick Hughes has built a well deserved reputation for honesty and integrity. His writing has been a fresh breeze blowing through a dark and dank room.

He will bring both credibility and expertise to his new position. Something that was not, I am sure, overlooked by company management before making the offer.


Barbra Voltaire said...

I think this is the smartest thing Gems TV could do. It is a brilliant move.
Richard Hughes will give Gems TV the highest credibility, sophistication, experience in their genre. And, he is a compelling and truly entertaining speaker.

Very smart for all involved...I wouldn't be surprised if Dick Hughes is cast opposite Will Smith in the sequel "I am Legend 2".

Anonymous said...

Hughes working for a TV shopping network could be viewed by some as a bit of a conflict of interest - much like a former senator/congress person going going to work for a lobbying group - it may be on the up-and-up, but just seems a bit wrong. His first goal should be to hire people who can cut gemstones without leaving MASSIVE windows in them, and teach their on-air personnel not to lie about gemstone values/treatments/origins.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. I fully expect to see him swanking poorly cut stones as "top gem quality world class....hurry and buy this one folks...oh my lord it's beautiful...[wistle a few times]"
Do you really think that the gem shopping channels are going to suddenly change their whole business and sell with honesty, and at a fair price? That wouldn't make any sense.

Alain van Acker said...


I'm sure Hughes has good reasons to head back to Thailand and frankly it is none of our business. I doubt anyone speculating over this has ever read a word he ever wrote.

Anonymous said...

Why post this in the first place, if we aren't allowed to speculate? We shouldn't need to justify ourselves just to appease one malcontent.

And yes, I among other speculators have read many words of Mr. Hughes, own his book, and know him on a personal level. I wish him the best of luck on his new found endeavor.

Ux4 said...

Any update on RWH's title and duties?

Richard W. Wise said...


Dick Hughes will be Vice President of marketing. He said that his position has yet to be completely defined, but as part of his duties will train and supervise lab personnel and train testers and presenters.

Loretta Castoro, who, I believe is his immediate superior, under GemsTV CEO Jason Choo, is a former colored stone buyer for Tiffany.