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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781399711876

Price: £24.99

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In this scintillating audiobook, journalist Victoria Finlay embarks on her own globe-circling search for the real stories behind some of the gems we prize most.

Throughout history, precious stones have inspired passions and poetry, quests and curses, sacred writings and unsacred actions. Blending adventure travel, geology, exciting new research, and her own irresistible charm, Finlay has fashioned a treasure hunt for some of the most valuable, glamorous, and mysterious substances on earth.

With the same intense curiosity and narrative flair she displayed in her widely-praised book Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox, Finlay journeys from the underground opal churches of outback Australia 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 rumour that fifty years ago most of the world’s amber was mined by prisoners in a Soviet gulag.

Jewels is a unique and often exhilarating voyage through history, across cultures, deep into the earth’s mantle, and up to the glittering heights of fame, power, and wealth. From the fabled curse of the Hope Diamond, to the disturbing truths about how pearls are cultured, to the peasants who were once executed for carrying amber to the centuries-old quest by magicians and scientists to make a perfect diamond, Jewels tells dazzling stories with a wonderment and brilliance truly worthy of its subjects.

(P)2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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A beautiful book. Reading it is, in fact, very much like dipping into a jewel box and pulling out curious and brilliant things, different each time but always fascinating.
Nadeem Aslam, author of Maps for Lost Lover
Filled with eye-catching incidents and stories . . . Finlay's evidence glitters from every page.
Lawrence Norfolk, Sunday Telegraph
Glorious . . . anecdote and information accumulate with marvellous abundance and a passionate sense of the fascination of jewels . . . a wonderfully generous gift
John de Falbe, Spectator
A fascinating and exhaustive travelogue . . . a prism through which the spectrum of history, geography and the sciences is refracted
Times Literary Supplement, Anna Swan
As a first glimpse into the jewel trade, rich, ancient and bloody, it could hardly be bettered
The Tablet
Her skill, as in her previous anatomy of colour, is to thread together brittle facts and theories with her own self-deprecating travelogue, creating a compelling excavation of the pieces of earth we covet so much. Even if your budget is more Elizabeth Duke than Tiffany, this is an accessible treasure trove of knowledge and adventure.
Daily Telegraph
Packed full of incident and anecdote and minutely researched, it's a compact history of some of our favourite bits of bling, a fascinating book, whether you read from cover to cover or just dip in here and there.
Irish Times
Because she focuses on people, whether Scottish freshwater pearl fishermen or Apache peridot miners, this is an engaging, glistening read. Because she always returns to the question of why jewels are valued, and how that value is upheld, it is also very thought-provoking. Finlay has a fine eye for curious facts . . . she writes crisply and well.
The Times