Jewels: a secret history by Victoria Finlay
Are you ready for a journey to the centre of the earth? Spanning five continents and millions of years, Victoria Finlay traces the history of eight precious stones in a well written book that combines scholarship with journalistic reportage.
Victoria is an entertaining and witty guide on a journey which starts on the amber-strewn shores of the Baltic and encompasses the ruby markets of Myanmar and the diamond districts of Belgium on the way. She sinks to the depths of the earth to find her precious stones, with thrilling accounts of her journeys to the emerald mines of Egypt and the peridot mesa of Arizona.
She interviews a wide and wonderful array of individuals involved with the jewellery industry at all levels – from opal dealers in the Australian outback to sapphire cutters in Sri Lanka. There’s plenty of British interest in the book too, with a chapter on the jet industry based around Whitby in North Yorkshire, and a moving – if somewhat alcohol-fuelled – interview with one of the last pearl fishers in Scotland.
“Jewels” is the go-to book if you want bite-sized, easily digestible, nuggets of knowledge about our favourite gemstones and their place in history. Keeping the book contemporary, Finlay also touches on the perils and pitfalls of buying precious stones: fakesters and fraudsters operate everywhere. But the book isn’t just a lesson in geology, its also a mesmerising travelogue. Its a must-read for anyone with serious jewellery wanderlust.