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Jewels

A Secret History

Victoria Finlay

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

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.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 29, 2006 – Gems seem to be moving to the literary forefront, with The Hope Diamond out in May and The Heartless Stone: A Journey through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire due in August. In her follow-up to Color, Finlay looks at diamonds and eight more of the world's most coveted gemstones. In each chapter, she discusses the jewel's history and travels to the stone's place of origin: abandoned emerald mines in Egypt, working opal mines in Australia, a pearl-fisher's home in Scotland and an Apache reservation that holds most of the world's supply of peridot. Finlay is also fascinated by the lengths to which people will go to fabricate jewels: one company manufactures diamonds from cremated human remains. While each journey holds its own charms—Finlay's trek to Sri Lanka to uncover the pedigree of a family heirloom sapphire is particularly enjoyable—they don't fully gel into a cohesive whole, and detailed stories about, say, the way one Japanese entrepreneur transformed the world's pearl market are juxtaposed with historical trivia. Still, Finlay's winning personality may well be enough to keep readers turning the pages. 8 pages of color and b&w illus. throughout.
Jewels
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: World
  • Published: Aug 15, 2006
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 496 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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