corundalope photo, corundum, synthetic sapphire


The corundalope is probably the rarest of all known corundums. An endangered species, it may nowadays be found only in laboratories. This specimen is cared for by Union Carbide's Milan Kokta (left) and Jeff Cooke.


Betwixt two worlds

Betwixt two worlds: A search for gemology in the 21st century by John L. Emmett and Richard W. Hughes. Bipolar gemology.


Spinel: Resurrection of a Classic

Tsavorite: An Untamed Beauty by V. Pardieu & R.W. Hughes. From the green hills of Africa…


Spinel: Resurrection of a Classic


Spinel: Resurrection of a Classic by V. Pardieu, with R.W. Hughes and E. Boehm. This overshadowed gem builds a name of its own.


Working the Blueseam

Working the Blueseam: The Tanzanite Mines of Merelani by V. Pardieu and R.W. Hughes. The insane gem posse on the trail of true blue in tanzanite country.


Burma politics

Chevron: 1; Burmese: 0 by Richard W. Hughes. A look at politics, gem style.


Curved striae

Dangerous Curves by Richard W. Hughes and John I. Koivula. Verneuil synthetic corundum reexamined.


Brilliance, Windows & Extinction

Brilliance, Windows & Extinction in Gemstones by Richard W. Hughes. Important cutting phenomena examined.


Trust by John L. Emmett

Trust  by John L. Emmett & R.W. Hughes. A brief essay on the ethics of of gem treatment disclosure.


Wakhi man

Moon Over the Pamirs  by R.W. Hughes and Vincent Pardieu, with Guillaume Soubiraa and Dana Schorr. The insane gem posse hits the trail in search of the lost mines of Marco Polo, finding spinels, rubies, and something far more valuable.


Madagascar Sapphires

Sorcerers and Sapphires: A Visit to Madagascar by Richard W. Hughes. Join the author as he pays a visit to the ruby and sapphire deposits of the lost island of Madagascar.


Heat Seeker

Heat Seeker: UV Fluorescence as a Gemological Tool by R.W. Hughes and J.L. Emmett. One of the challenges gem dealers and gemologists face today is to identify heat treatment. The authors examine UV fluorescence as an economical, yet powerful heat-seeking tool.


Fluxed Up

Fluxed Up: The Fracture Healing of Ruby by R.W. Hughes and J.L. Emmett. Just what treatment could possibly be so nefarious that it could not even be discussed in the polite pages of an industry publication? Read on…


Kimberley Process

The Kimberley Process: Appeasement comes to the diamond trade. Think the diamond trade is concerned about human rights? Think the Kimberley Protocols will fix the issue of “conflict” diamonds? Think again. Charles Ellias and Richard Hughes dissect this issue with the surgical precision of a US military bulldozer redecorating an Iraqi neighborhood.



Banned! Burmese gems in the crossfire by Richard W. Hughes and Brian Leber. The case for sanctions against Burma seems to be obvious. But the reality may be less so. In this pair of articles, the case both for and against sanctions is examined.


The Skin Game

The Skin Game. When something appears too good to be true, it usually is. And that was precisely the case with the treated orange sapphires that poured out of Thai burners' ovens in 2001.


Love and Hate

Love and Hate. Max Green's stolen millions and the Lao sapphire mines.


Rumble in the Jungle

There's a Rumble in the Jungle: The Sapphire Face-Lift Face-Off Saga by Richard W. Hughes. With all the talk about lattice diffusion, we've dusted off an old piece from the early 1990's. It makes surprisingly good reading…


Vampire Blues

Vampire Blues by Richard W. Hughes. The funny thing about gem treatments. No matter how often you kill them, they always come back to haunt you…


Seeing Red

Seeing Red: A Connoisseur's Guide to Ruby. Richard Hughes casts a discerning glance at the qualities that make ruby the most sexual of all gems.


Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory: Gems & Junkies in Burma. Should the world boycott Burmese gems? In a searing personal essay, Richard Hughes examines that question with a look at the relationship between the gem and drug trades in Burma.


Heat Wave

Heat Wave by Richard Hughes. A different take on the heat and Burma rubies.


jade, jadeite, Burma jade, Burmese jade, nephrite

The second-most valuable gem in the world Burmese Jade: The Inscrutable Gem

  • Part 1: Burma's Jade Mines By R.W. Hughes, O. Galibert, G. Bosshart, F. Ward, Thet Oo, M. Smith, Tay Thye Sun and George Harlow. Fully illustrated.

  • Part 2 – The cutting, grading, trading and faking of Burmese jadeite is detailed. Fully illustrated.

emerald, treated emerald, emerald enhancements, oiled emerald

Don't Forget to Flush. The Digital Devil takes a fresh look at emerald enhancements.


spinel, burma spinel, Burmese spinel, balas ruby, ruby

Spinel. Kurt Sickafus & Richard Hughes dismantle the history of a most interesting gem material.

Rants and Slants

"Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

A.J. Liebling

Devil's Advocate/ Digital Devil

Selections from the archives of
Richard W. Hughes' notorious column…




Passion Fruit

Passion Fruit A Lover's Guide to Sapphire. Richard Hughes dissects the qualities that make up a fine sapphire.


Big Time

Big Time: Are these huge ruby and sapphire crystals worth anything? Read all about 'em.


Cry Freetown

Cry Freetown: A poem by Todd A. Pownell.


From Russia With Jade

From Russia with Jade. A journey to Russia's jade mines. By Richard Hughes, with Nickolai Kouznetsov.


diamond, conflict diamonds, blood diamonds

Blood From A Stone. What's up with these so-called "blood diamonds?" Richard Hughes puts them under the Devil's microscope.


GE POL diamonds

Have I Got An Idea For U. National Enquirer comes to the diamond business? Read all about the attempt to peddle GE/POL diamonds at prices higher than the natural gems.


synthetic moissanite, diamond substitute, diamond, cubic zirconia

C3: I See Thru U. Does synthetic moissanite scare the bejesus out of you?


Fun down under

Fun Down Under. What do Henry David Thoreau and Australian opal miner Lenny Cram have in common? Find out here.


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Page updated 7 March, 2013