Jewels A Secret History

Victoria Finlay

$40

In stock

Throughout history, precious stones have inspired passions and poetry, quests and curses, sacred writings and unsacred actions. In this scintillating book, journalist Victoria Finlay embarks on her own globe-circling search for the real stories behind some of the gems we prize most. 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 Color, 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 rumor 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.

$40

In stock

ISBN – 9780345466952
Format – Paperback
Publication Date – 01/08/2007
Categories – Object Histories

more titles

Victoria Finlay
Fabric The Hidden History of the Material World

A magnificent work of original research that unravels history through textiles and cloth–how we make it, use it, and what it means to us.

How is a handmade fabric helping save an ancient forest?
Why is a famous fabric pattern from India best known by the name of a Scottish town?
How is a Chinese dragon robe a diagram of the whole universe?
What is the difference between how the Greek Fates and the Viking Norns used threads to tell our destiny?

In Fabric, bestselling author Victoria Finlay spins us round the globe, weaving stories of our relationship with cloth and asking how and why people through the ages have made it, worn it, invented it, and made symbols out of it. And sometimes why they have fought for it.

She beats the inner bark of trees into cloth in Papua New Guinea, fails to handspin cotton in Guatemala, visits tweed weavers at their homes in Harris, and has lessons in patchwork-making in Gee’s Bend, Alabama – where in the 1930s, deprived of almost everything they owned, a community of women turned quilting into an art form.

She began her research just after the deaths of both her parents –and entwined in the threads she found her personal story too. Fabric is not just a material history of our world, but Finlay’s own journey through grief and recovery.

$55

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Colour


‘A rare and wonderful book… I could not be more enthusiastic.’ Simon Winchester

‘A treasure trove of human history and obsession…the breadth of research and insight is dazzling.’ Glasgow Herald

Colour unlocks the history of the colours of the rainbow, and reveals how paints came to be invented, discovered, traded and used. This remarkable and beautifully written book, part travelogue part narrative history, remembers a time when red paint was really the colour of blood, when orange was the poison pigment, blue as expensive as gold, and yellow made from the urine of cows force-fed with mangoes. It looks at how green was carried by yaks along the silk road, and how an entire nation was founded on the colour purple.

‘A highly companionable guide, adventurous and romantic’ Independent on Sunday

Exciting, richly informative, and always surprising, Colour lifts the lid on the historical palette and unearths an astonishing wealth of stories about the quest for colours, and our efforts to understand them.

$28

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