Rocks, Ice and Dirty Stones
Distributed for Reaktion Books
The king of stones, valued since antiquity for their unrivalled hardness, diamonds today are both desired and deplored. Once faceted and polished they glitter on the fingers of brides-to-be and in the ornaments of the super-rich, but their extraction from some of the world’s poorest countries remains contentious. Immensely valuable for their size, diamonds can be easily hidden and transported, making them perfect contraband. Diamonds have been widely used in industry since the nineteenth century and have long been valued for their pharmaceutical and prophylactic properties.
This entertaining and richly illustrated book examines the history of the diamond trade through the centuries from India and Brazil to South Africa and Europe and investigates what happens to diamonds once they reach the cutters and polishers. Marcia Pointon takes the reader on a unique tour of the ways in which the quadrahedron diamond shape has inspired design, architecture, and painting, from the symbolism of medieval manuscripts to modern-day graffiti. She questions the etiquette of engagement rings, and she reminds us why and how lost, stolen, or cursed diamonds create suspense in so many classic novels and films. This compelling and fascinating account of the history of sparklers around the world will appeal to all who covet, as well as all who despise, the unparalleled brilliance and glitter of the diamond.