Thinking Aloud: “Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair”

May 3, 2015 by Darius 

The diamond industry is worth tens of billions of dollars every year.  In his book Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair, Matthew Hart explores every facet of the diamond industry, flaws and all, from the glittering shops of 5th Avenue to the mines in South Africa.

Diamonds are formed over the course of millions of years under conditions of extremely high pressure and temperature.  But to us, diamonds are much more than carbon atoms arranged in a crystalline lattice.  Diamonds represent wealth, purity, and value beyond compare.

The modern diamond industry was formed in the aftermath of one of the greatest diamond rushes in history following the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa.  Through a combination of wile, duplicity, and financial might, the legendary Cecil Rhodes won control of the diamond pits at Kimberley.  From there, his company, De Beers, grew to control a majority of worldwide diamond operations.  Eventually, as new discoveries broke De Beers’s monopoly on mining, De Beers expanded into retail.  It remains the single largest player in the global diamond industry.

Hart gets up close and personal with every aspect of the diamond trade, from before a stone is mined to after it lands in a shop window as part of a necklace.  Diamond incorporates geology, history, and economics to weave an enthralling tapestry of one of humanity’s oldest obsessions.  I apologize for yet another pun, but Diamond really is a gem of a book.

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