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Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair Paperback – August 27, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452283701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452283701
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

No other gem holds the allure and mystery of the diamond. In this book, journalist and author Hart (Golden Giant, 1985) offers a brief history of this supreme gem and the industry surrounding it. Part science text, part business history, part biography, and part travelog, the book provides some fascinating glimpses into the world of diamonds but can appear disjointed. Hart writes about South Africa's long-lived De Beers cartel and the attempts to unseat it, the unscrupulous characters of the trade, and the many aspects of the business, from miners to retailers. Taken separately, the anecdotes are interesting, even engaging, but throughout the book, the reader is left feeling that there is more to the story. A significant portion of the work covers the recent diamond finds in Canada, which Kevin Krajick's Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic (W. H. Freeman, 2001) covers in greater detailed study. Recommended for large business and business history collections. (Index not seen.) Mike Miller, Dallas P.L.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This book deserves the highest of praises.
Amazon Customer
Anyone wanting to learn more about this industry and the mysterious wonder of the "beautiful rock," will find this book fascinating reading.
R. Shaff
Although the title of the book does little to convey the true allure of the book, I found it to be an excellent piece of engaging research.
wiseprof

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on September 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
At one point in the book there is a brief description of the opening remarks at an international gathering of diamond merchants. The featured speaker was explaining the two reasons diamonds have value, "vanity and greed". For those unfamiliar with the diamond industry and the control that DeBeer's has held over the prices of diamonds, the book's contents may be somewhat of a shock. The monopoly this company holds is so complete, the executives of the company cannot come to The United States for they are likely to be subpoenaed if they did. Events described in the book of major new diamond finds together with owners may greatly diminish DeBeer's hold on their monopoly, but they would likely still control 50% of the world's market.
Massive diamonds and a variety of stones that are rare due to their color understandably command whatever price a person is willing to pay. The diamonds that are on the hands of women throughout the world are extremely common, unless they are wearing a golf ball size rock like Elizabeth Taylor. One example the author shares of market manipulation is with a relatively small but perfect stone. When graded d-flawless a diamond is just as the description describes, the price is an entirely different matter. DeBeer's has manipulated the market so that at times such a stone would cost a person $10,000 and when they get greedy or angry, the price becomes $70,000. The price of this grade and size of stone will also change dramatically based on where you make a purchase, head to Tiffany's and you pay for their 5th Avenue location and their name. Head to a less flashy address in the same city, and you will save many thousands of dollars.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By R. Shaff on May 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After hearing a bit about the cable-based feature exposing the incredible monopolistic hold De Beers has on the diamond industry and the associated corruption, crime and cruelty associated with diamond mining and the inherent competition, I became acutely aware that the bobbles adorning our fingers, wrists, necks and ears came at a very high price--human as well as financial. To my surprise, I ran across DIAMOND and hoped it would delve deeper into this mysteriously clandestine industry. Matthew Hart unravels the mystery quite well.
Hart has a leg up on most journalists penning a book on this trade. His position as editor of the industry trade magazine, "Rapaport Diamond Report," provides him with the expertise to report on this cabal industry as well as the background and knowledge to impart the history of the diamond trade. However, Hart does the reader one better by being a genuinely gifted storyteller.
Hart lays out the basic foundation and history of diamond geology and its shrouded history. From yarns about hustlers and theives to the geological formations known as pipes, Hart imparts the beauty and dark side of the trade. And, as mentioned, Hart casts his line into the vast monopoly known as De Beers. He explains how De Beers has managed to control the flow of diamonds not only to the wholesale "site" markets but, more recently, to the retail market as well. We learn how the Oppenheimer family has ruled this industry with an iron fist and a deft touch. Further, and strangely to this reader, we learn the origins of the De Beers name...a totally unexpected twist.
Hart informs the reader of great finds and great adventures. He focuses on several large diamonds discoveries - an 81-carat pink from the jungles of Brazil and the discovery of Canada's first major diamond mine.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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 relied upon for a perpetual supply of both. It isn't surprising, then, that there has been a multimillion dollar advertising campaign stretching over the last decades to emphasize the happier side, the romance of diamonds. Romance or not, there is someone eager to steal a diamond from a mine, or to divert rough diamonds from their appointed cutters and polishers, or to jump a claim on a supposed diamond field, or fence diamonds to sponsor a war, or jack up prices artificially. "Malfeasance rustles in the background of the diamond world like a snake in dry grass," writes Matthew Hart in _Diamond: A Journey to the Heart of an Obsession_ (Walker & Co.), a wide-ranging and entertaining look at different components of the diamond business.
One cannot tell the story of diamonds without telling about De Beers, which started cornering the market in diamonds over a century ago; but much of this story is about how De Beers is losing control over the diamond market. De Beers executives do not travel to the United States, because they would be arrested; there are charges, the latest from 1994, for price fixing. ("The most senior managers of the world's preeminent diamond company are thus effectively prevented from setting foot in their largest market.") The main assaults on De Beers have not been legal, of course, but simple economic competition. Diamond mines in Russia, Canada, and Australia are now profitable, and India, which is not a primary supplier of diamonds, is busy supplying cut and polished jewels which other mines formerly sold only for industrial use.
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