People & Places: New Directions in Gemology

Richard Hughes explores the nexus between gemology, gem mining and culture, arguing that gemology must become something more than science.

People & Places: New Directions in Gemology by Richard Hughes

Gemology is tired. Weary. Stumbling. Guilty. We are privileged to work with some of the most stunning and romantic objects on the planet – singular marvels of incredible beauty. And yet all we can do is analyze. Like sadists, we torture beauty until the extraordinary is reduced to the ordinary – chemicals, numbers and digits – abstractions with no relation to the reasons why people are drawn to precious stones. We break the butterfly upon the wheel. 

Which instrument comprehends feeling? What tool measures emotion? No device can see with our eyes nor read our minds. Yet we surrender our senses to the machine. Guilty as charged. We break the butterfly upon the wheel.

Gemology cannot become simply science. People are drawn to precious stones because of passions, not just properties. The purchase of a precious stone is an emotional contract that connects the new owner with people and places across the planet. If we wish to fathom desire, we must begin understanding this visceral link. And if answers are not easily measured, if they involve emotion and art, not just science, they are no less real and no less important to gemology.

Richard Hughes will delve into these issues via a dramatic multimedia presentation that covers ground all the way from Manhattan, through Russia's emerald mines, to Madagascar and Tajikistan's remote ruby, sapphire and spinel deposits. It will provide inspiration,  new directions into the neglected, nether regions of gemology.

Saturday 23 June 2007, 13:30

Bowers Museum
Santa Ana, CA (USA)