Jewels: A Secret History
Throughout history, precious stones have inspired passions andpoetry, quests and curses, sacred writings and unsacred actions. Inthis scintillating book, journalist Victoria Finlay embarks on herown globe-circling search for the real stories behind some of thegems we prize most. Blending adventure travel, geology, excitingnew research, and her own irresistible charm, Finlay has fashioneda treasure hunt for some of the most valuable, glamorous, andmysterious substances on earth.With the same intense curiosity and narrative flair shedisplayed in her widely-praised book Color, Finlay journeys fromthe underground opal churches of outback Australia to the oncepearl-rich rivers of Scotland; from the peridot mines on an Apachereservation in Arizona to the remote ruby mines in the mountains ofnorthern Burma. She risks confronting scorpions to crawl throughCleopatra's long-deserted emerald mines, tries her hand at gemcutting in the dusty Sri Lankan city where Marco Polo bartered forsapphires, and investigates a rumor that fifty years ago most ofthe world's amber was mined by prisoners in a Soviet gulag.Jewels is a unique and often exhilarating voyage throughhistory, across cultures, deep into the earth's mantle, and up tothe glittering heights of fame, power, and wealth. From the fabledcurse of the Hope Diamond, to the disturbing truths about howpearls are cultured, to the peasants who were once executed forcarrying amber to the centuries-old quest by magicians andscientists to make a perfect diamond, Jewels tells dazzling storieswith a wonderment and brilliance truly worthy of its subjects.From the Hardcover edition.