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Jewels: A Secret History (2006)

by Victoria Finlay

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3841255,579 (3.84)9
"In this book, journalist Victoria Finlay journeys from the underground opal churches of the Australian outback 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 voyage through history and across cultures, deep into the earth's mantle, and up to the glittering heights of fame, power, and wealth."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I thought this would be a book about the history of jewels. Instead, I got a travelogue with heavy, heavy religious overtones and a specific worldview. Back to Aja Raden it is. ( )
  iszevthere | Jun 20, 2022 |
Very interesting book. ( )
  yamiyoghurt | Jan 29, 2018 |
I remember reading this my senior year of high school because Clemson's honors college application asked what the last book you read was, and this was it- so definitely November some time. I really like this quirky histories of specific objects- scientific properties, cultural significance, economic import of today. Might do a more thorough review if I reread it. ( )
  Daumari | Dec 30, 2017 |
This was a really fascinating book, each chapter telling the in-depth story of the history of each particular gemstone. I would recommend it for anyone interested in jewelry and/or microhistories. Amber, pearls, jet, peridot, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and diamonds were all covered. My only complaint would be that I wish more stones had been covered; for example amethysts or citrines or really anything in the quartz family. ( )
  meggyweg | Dec 5, 2013 |
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 lore here. Finlay doesn't waste any time on what is common knowledge, she jumps right into the arcane and the obscure. Her voice is engaging and her style is sure. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Precious jewels have been an integral part of human history. Since ancient times, they have functioned as decoration and as currency in most cultures.

And they are so much more. They carry history, define nations and represent the passage of time.
 
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When traditional Russian icon painters begin work on a new piece, they start by covering a simple wooden panel with a mixture of chalk and glue.
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UK title: "Buried Treasure: Travels through the Jewel Box;" US title: "Jewels: A Secret History"
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"In this book, journalist Victoria Finlay journeys from the underground opal churches of the Australian outback 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 voyage through history and across cultures, deep into the earth's mantle, and up to the glittering heights of fame, power, and wealth."--BOOK JACKET.

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