Bill Lieberum, Appraiser and Consumer Advocate, 57

Known to most bloggers on Polygon and PriceScope as “Rockdoc,” William R. “Bill” Lieberum, died June 20 at the age of 57.

“I got into being a gem junkie about 25 years ago,” he wrote, “having bought some diamonds for investment, and got stones that graded lower than the seller represented them to be.” And from that moment on, he would always fight for the consumer. “His heart was in the right place,” said Michael Cowing, gemologist and appraiser in Crownsville, Md. “Bill couldn’t resist being a consumer advocate.” Lieberum specialized in “consumer misrepresentation” and had an Internet verification service for consumers only.

Lieberum, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, was a Gemological Institute of America Graduate Gemologist, a former American Gem Society retail store owner, and Certified Gemologist Appraiser.

“Bill was a good guy,” writes Dave Atlas, president, D. Atlas & Co., and Accredited Gem Appraisers in Philadelphia. “I don’t know a whole lot about his early family life, but it must not have been easy. He graduated from a privately endowed school in Philadelphia, Girard College, named after its benefactor, Stephen Girard. This school takes in orphans and fatherless boys into its care for their secondary education. This is a world famous place, but in a harsh part of the inner city these days. It wasn’t such a great spot even when Bill went there, but the fine education there led him into being the straight sort of fellow he was.”

On radio talk shows, and on television, Lieberum helped expose what he called “a lot of shady practices that went on in the Philadelphia area.”

In 1981, Lieberum closed his AGS retail store and began working as an independent appraiser gemologist. By the mid ’80s, Lieberum served as an expert advisor for the Philadelphia district attorneys’ office of economic crimes. He was a member of the International Society of Appraisers, and was an expert witness in several high profile legal cases, including the infamous 1986 diamond fraud case against Ron Perlstein of Sansom Street, the once famous Philadelphia jeweler who plead “no contest” to criminal charges.

Elly Rosen, of the Appraisal Information Network, Brooklyn, N.Y., called Lieberum “a valued associate.” Rosen met Lieberum through ISA. “Bill was as much a teacher as he was a student,” says Rosen. “A constant voice for ethics and professionalism, and he backed it up by example.”

In 1991, Lieberum opened Consumers Gem Laboratory in Boca Raton, Fla.

With the advent of the internet, Lieberum found himself a well-publicized source in providing educational advice online. He began posting on various forums to help educate readers and trade members in the legal ramifications in relating to gemology and valuation science.

“Bill led by example in his later years. He was a strong advocate of consumer fairness. So much so, that he scared a lot of potential work away, but he wanted to play the game by his own set of rules and it is my belief he did this with honor. No one made more thorough reports and I sure would not have wanted him opposite me in an expert testimony situation. He was adamant about his positions and learned how to make his case and defend his territory. He fought hard for his clients and he set a good example of complete appraising and service. Bill never had quite enough time because he wouldn’t rush a job out before he was perfectly content with the appraisal.

“I will miss his contributions and his often counterpoint views,” writes Atlas. “It’s difficult to outlast your contemporaries and I am saddened to hear we no longer have Bill around to pick on us or for us to pick on him. RIP.”