Celebrated Gem Photographer Fred Ward Dies

He also was a gemologist who wrote nine gem books

Fred Ward, the renowned photographer whose longtime fascination with gems led him to author nine books on the subject and become a gemologist, died July 19 of Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Washington Post and an obituary attributed to his family. He had just turned 81.

“Fred was an icon,” says American Gem Trade Association executive director Douglas Hucker. “He was a great writer and photographer. But he was just one of the people you really appreciated talking to. He always had a picture of gemstone or some story. He was a delight to be around. I will miss him, truly.”

Ward first became interested in photography while in high school, after his debate coach loaned him a camera. After his first shot was printed in the school paper, photography turned into a lifetime passion.

He eventually became a photographer for National Geographic, visiting more than 130 countries. He developed a specialty in photographing, and later writing about, gemstones—eventually getting a gemologist degree. His nine books on the subject, sometimes co-written with wife Charlotte, covered diamonds, opals, emeralds, and other gems.

Ward had an equally celebrated career as a news photographer for the big publications of the day, including Time and Life. Several of his shots of noted historical figures—from Jacqueline Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr. to the Beatles—are now considered iconic.

Ward is survived by Charlotte, his wife of 58 years; four children; four grandchildren; and one sister.

(Image courtesy of Charlotte Ward/Award Agency)

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