Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair

Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair

by Matthew Hart
     
 

ISBN-10: 0452283701

ISBN-13: 9780452283701

Pub. Date: 08/28/2002

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

On a hot morning in May, 1999, three garimpeiros (small-scale miners) found a large pink diamond in the muddy waters of the Abaete River in Brazil, a discovery that captivated the entire diamond trade. Beginning with this dramatic and revealing tale, Matthew Hart embarks on a journey into an obsessive, largely hidden, and utterly fascinating world.

The geology of

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Overview

On a hot morning in May, 1999, three garimpeiros (small-scale miners) found a large pink diamond in the muddy waters of the Abaete River in Brazil, a discovery that captivated the entire diamond trade. Beginning with this dramatic and revealing tale, Matthew Hart embarks on a journey into an obsessive, largely hidden, and utterly fascinating world.

The geology of diamonds explains how hard it is to find them. Diamonds are accidents of nature, carbon crystals compressed deep underground billions of years ago; parts of them, it is even thought, may predate the Earth itself. They are also elusive, carried to the surface only in slender volcanoes known as "pipes," most of which are actually barren. Weaving science and history throughout his story, Hart follows the diamond trail around the globe-from the basement room where Gabi Tolkowsky, the world's greatest cutter, faced the 599-carat Centenary diamond, to the fog-bound smugglers' paradise of Africa's Diamond Coast, to the London sales rooms of De Beers, which manages the longest-running cartel in modern business history. The diamond story is peopled by characters like William Goldberg, the flamboyant Manhattan diamantaire, who are as memorable as the stones they seek.

Though many of the world's most famous stones had already been found, the modern history of diamonds began in 1869 when a native boy in South Africa found a large crystal on a farm, and Hart recreates the dramatic rush that brought Cecil Rhodes, Ernest Oppenheimer, and a diminutive adventurer named Barney Barnato their fortune. The great cartel that arose would not be shaken for more than a century: then, as Hart chronicles, a sensational race for diamonds erupted in the 1990s in Canada's Northwest Territories, and an audacious, young, female geologist, Eira Thomas, against all odds and enormous competition, discovered near the Arctic Circle one of the richest diamond fields in the world. Hart explores the physics of diamonds-the way light and color move through a stone- as he describes the suspense that attends the cutting of a priceless gem. He portrays the lives of the countless diamond cutters in India who have transformed the industry by making valuable the tiny stones that were once considered worthless. And he examines the ingenuity behind DeBeers's marketing, which has "forged a link between something people do not need, diamonds, and something they do need, love."

Diamonds also have their dark side. "Malfeasance rustles in the background of the diamond world like a snake in dry grass," writes Hart as he documents the relentless and ingenious thievery that pervades the business, and the even more damaging revelations of "war diamonds" financing brutal conflicts in Africa. Who will rule diamonds now, and what form the once-secretive business will take, are the issues of the day.

By revealing the layers and inner workings of the diamond industry, and the inherent excitement and human drama that sustain it, Matthew Hart has captured the essence of an exotic substance and its world as surely as a diamond captures light: bending it, reflecting it, and returning it in a blaze of color.

Author Biography: A writer and journalist, Matthew Hart is also a correspondent for the New York monthly, Rapaport Diamond Report, and the magazine's former mining editor. His articles on diamonds have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly and The Financial Post. He has written for newspapers, television, and film. His books include three novels and two previous works of nonfiction, including the story of the greatest gold discovery in the western hemisphere. He lives in Toronto.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452283701
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
08/28/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Diamond 1. A Large Pink
2. The Diamond Seas
3. The Middle Empire
4. The Long Hunt
5. Rush in the Barrens
6. The End of the Old Cartel
7. The Manufacture of Desire
8. Bad Goods
9. The Diamond Wars
10. Diamond Cutter
11. Rosy Blue
12. The Dogrib Country Appendix Selected Bibliography Acknowledgments Index

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