Jewels: A Secret History

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Aug 15, 2006 - History - 496 pages
7 Reviews
Throughout history, precious stones have inspired passions and poetry, quests and curses, sacred writings and unsacred actions. In this scintillating book, journalist Victoria Finlay embarks on her own globe-circling search for the real stories behind some of the gems we prize most. Blending adventure travel, geology, exciting new research, and her own irresistible charm, Finlay has fashioned a treasure hunt for some of the most valuable, glamorous, and mysterious substances on earth.

With the same intense curiosity and narrative flair she displayed in her widely-praised book Color, Finlay journeys from the underground opal churches of outback Australia to the once pearl-rich rivers of Scotland; from the peridot mines on an Apache reservation in Arizona to the remote ruby mines in the mountains of northern Burma. She risks confronting scorpions to crawl through Cleopatra’s long-deserted emerald mines, tries her hand at gem cutting in the dusty Sri Lankan city where Marco Polo bartered for sapphires, and investigates a rumor that fifty years ago most of the world’s amber was mined by prisoners in a Soviet gulag.

Jewels is a unique and often exhilarating voyage through history, across cultures, deep into the earth’s mantle, and up to the glittering heights of fame, power, and wealth. From the fabled curse of the Hope Diamond, to the disturbing truths about how pearls are cultured, to the peasants who were once executed for carrying amber to the centuries-old quest by magicians and scientists to make a perfect diamond, Jewels tells dazzling stories with a wonderment and brilliance truly worthy of its subjects.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - satyridae - LibraryThing

nteresting and entertaining look at gemstones and where they come from. I learned that birthstones were invented in 1912 by some jewelers with overstocks of certain stones. There's lots of fascinating ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AnglersRest - LibraryThing

I did enjoy this book; it was a steady combination of history,travel,geology and social anthropology. It was a very informative book, but I did find, that the author was fairly clinical about how she ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Title Page
AMBER
PEARL
OPAL
PERIDOT
EMERALD
SAPPHIRE
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Victoria Finlay studied social anthropology at the University of St. Andrews and the College of William & Mary, Virginia, before working for Reuters in London and Scandinavia. She spent twelve years as a journalist in Hong Kong, five of them as arts editor of The South China Morning Post, where she also presented a weekly radio program. She now lives in Somerset in southwest England, and divides her time between researching her next book and working for an international environmental charity, www.arcworld.org. Jewels is her third book.


From the Hardcover edition.

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