"Diamonds are forever," goes the familiar refrain, and we take the truth of that statement for granted just as we take for granted the inherent value of the much sought-after object. That phrase, though, was actually coined in the 1950s by a copywriter named Frances Gerety working on an ad campaign for the biggest diamond company in the world. That's just one nugget of information contained in Diamond
, Matthew Hart's exploration of diamonds and the industry that has grown up around them. The Toronto-based journalist journeys from the wilds of South American to the barren Arctic landscape of Canada, the jungles of South Africa, and the back streets of India. Stops along the way include geologists' digs, a jeweller's cutting room, dealers' backrooms, and the boardrooms of industry titan De Beers. Some of Diamond
, like a chapter in which a group of small-scale miners unearth "a large pink" on the Rio Abaete in Brazil, reads like first-rate airport fiction. Or a passage in which a diamond-cutter goes to work on a 599-carat "top-white" discovered in South Africa: "Gabi Tolkowsky studied the Centenary diamond for a year, discovering the magnitude of the challenge. As he scrutinized the larger cracks with a microscope, he saw, at the deepest point of penetration, networks of much tinier cracks and... a bubble. It was these infinitesimal bubbles that frightened Tolkowsky most." By the time the cutter has finished his examination, made models, and decided on the shape the diamond should be, three years have gone by.
Not all of Diamond glitters--those whose eyes glaze over in the presence of too many numbers and dollar signs may find the backroom shenanigans a challenge, and one dig in particular in the Canadian wilderness seems to go on, well, forever. But the nuts and bolts of locating the mines, the actual cutting and shaping, the ultimate fate of the larger ones, methods of theft, and the creation of a demand for an essentially useless item ("Within three years of Gerety's late-night inspiration, 80 percent of American marriages were starting with a diamond ring") make Diamond a fascinating read for anyone with more than a passing curiosity about these bits of carbon that have become synonymous with both love and money. --Shawn Conner
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Any book that details the diamond trade must contend with the brilliance of Stefan Kanfer's 1993 gem, The Last Empire. And Hart's book picks up roughly where Empire left off. When Hart (editor of the New York trade magazine Rapaport Diamond Report) traces the diamond frenzy that struck Canada in the 1990s, his writing is as polished and fiery as when Kanfer re-created the machinations of Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato, the Romulus and Remus of the South African diamond cartel. But when the two mine the same territory, Hart's book looks like indicator minerals in comparison: Hart is less successful when he depicts De Beers's origins, the creation of the company's monopoly, and Ernest Oppenheimer, who turned De Beers into a profitable company. Hart, however, has a good eye for intriguing figures in the industry, including a part-wolf sled dog named Thor who was suspected of espionage. In the end, the author expertly takes readers into theft-riven African mines, the back rooms of Brazilian dealers, the polishing rooms in both midtown Manhattan and India's slums, and the sorting rooms in London.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the