Diamond Paperback – Sep 28 2007
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"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 Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Hart is to be commended for including a section on conflict diamonds, and how the trade in these is effecting the lives of thousands for the worse. He is cynical about how much the industry will do to stop the trade of these tainted gems, but the reader gets the feeling that his cynicism is not misplaced - much of his story is taken up with the greed and backstabbing involved in the search for and trading of this precious commodity. This definitely is a cold blooded love affair. But Hart manages to tell it as it is, leaving the reader to decide if diamonds really are worth the trouble and money that they currently command.
There are few complaints about this book, only minor quibbles. One is very partisan - I would have liked to have read more about the Argyle diamonds of Australia, and how they have been attempting to make brown diamonds (champagne and cognacs to be more romantic) fashionable. I also would have expected more on the trading houses of Antwerp and Tel Aviv, but Hart was obviously more concerned with the swashbuckling nature of exploration. But as stated, these are minor quibbles - this is still a fascinating read.
This is an interesting overview of diamond history and business. It details the history of humankind's fascination with one of the rarest of gems-the carbon tetrahedron. From the jungles of South America, to Canada's arctic north, to the Siberian tundra, to South and Central Africa, to the west coast of Africa, the Australian outback and elsewhere humans have searched for the mother lode-the diamond kimberlite/lamproite pipe-one of the rarest of geological formations, but also one of the richest of treasures-many billions of dollars worth in the richest pipes. And of course, where there is money, there is every breed of deceit, vulgarity and excess. In Africa, (and elsewhere), many have died from civil wars or have been murdered from the lust which seems to spring from this crystal refraction.
The major players are outlined-eg DeBeers, BHP, and a long list of wily rogues and speculators who make and break their fortune on the flippancy of billion year old crustal pressure distribution. The process of diamond formation is described- from the formation of kimberlitic/lamproitic magma deep within the earth, to their eruptive surface craters, which are, incidentally, quite rare in geological time.
Diamond indicators -purple 'G10' garnets, and green diopsides-indicate to geologists where diamonds may be found. Kids played with shiny bright stones, and diamonds could be picked out of the walls of brick farmhouses in 19th century South Africa, before the fantastically rich Kimberly and Premier pipes were found. Mine managers laughed when thousand-carat gems landed on their table, and threw them out the window in disbelief.Read more ›
Unsavory actions often occur with diamonds even before they are found. Hart tells of prospectors who switch allegiances, finding potential diamond pipes in a particular region for one company, than going private or working for someone else when a mine is discovered (or in some cases being sold out by their employer once their use had ended).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
After reading "Diamond", I wanted to know more. More about what the diamond trade has done for (and to) the people of Africa, about what the search for diamonds has done... Read morePublished on March 31 2004 by Thomas Bonar
First, this book can be read in two sittings. With that in my mind, most of its flaws can be forgiven. Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2004
Hart left out Israel. This is my only complaint with "History..." Other than that omission, the book is satisfyingly complete, covering all major contributors to the... Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2003
I'm disappointed by this book. I expected a history of power, influence, and science relating to diamonds, or perhaps an expose on a ruthless and unethical industry. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2003 by Amazon Customer
This book is an excellent historical and geological overview of the mystique surrounding diamonds and the lengths people will go to obtain them. Read morePublished on July 19 2003 by D. Buxman
This book is fascinating and beautifully written, a great example of the new style of investigative journalism in which the observer leaves his own peculiar tracks, thereby dumping... Read morePublished on March 26 2003
At one point in the book there is a brief description of the opening remarks at an international gathering of diamond merchants. Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2002 by taking a rest
At a conference on diamonds in 1997, a speaker expressed his confidence in the diamond market. It was founded on two supports, he said: vanity and greed, and humans could be... Read morePublished on May 16 2002 by Rob Hardy
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