William R. “Bill” Lieberum, better known to habitués of Polygon and PriceScope as “Rockdoc,” died June 20 at the age of 57.
Lieberum was a Gemological Institute of America graduate gemologist, a former American Gem Society retail store owner, and certified gemologist appraiser. Lieberum once wrote that he became a gem enthusiast after “having bought some diamonds for investment, and got stones that graded lower than the seller represented them to be.”
“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 and television, Lieberum talked about 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 on economic crimes. He was a member of the International Society of Appraisers and an expert witness in several high-profile legal cases, including the 1986 diamond fraud case against Ron Perlstein, the once-famous Philadelphia jeweler who pleaded no contest to criminal charges. In 1991, Lieberum opened Consumers Gem Laboratory in Boca Raton, Fla.
With the advent of the Internet, Lieberum found himself a well-publicized source for providing educational advice online. He began posting on various forums to help educate readers and trade members on the legal issues relating to gemology and valuation science.
“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.”