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Colour of Paradise: The Emerald in the Age of Gunpowder Empires Hardcover – April 27, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
The book contains no particularly major revelations. Most historians of the trade are aware that India's so-called "old mine" emeralds were, in fact, Colombian emeralds imported by the Spanish into India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Lane's contribution is to meticulously document both the early history of Spain's brutal exploitation of Colombia's indigenous people and its gem wealth. He gives us a well documented overview of early trade routes and uncovers some very interesting and original information concerning 16th Century production; methods and emerald values.
Lane begins with the 16th Century and follows emerald production in Colombia right up to the present, with a good account of politics and production into the 1990s.
All and all this well organized and well written account brings real clarity to a relatively murky area of history. The book also contains detailed appendices estimating early emerald at Muzo, relative values of emerald and diamond in Europe in the 17th Century and an extensive bibliography. The author has uncovered several original accounts that have until now been unrecognized. Highly recommended.
Richard W. Wise, G.G., author: The French Blue
The book essentially is an exploration of a luxury commodity in the early modern world. The "Gunpowder Empires" are Mughal India, Safavid Persia, the Ottomans, and interestingly the author includes both the Spanish and Portuguese in the category, with Morocco as a minor one. You will notice that some are Muslim and some are not. This is really the study of a kind of early global trade. Most of the emeralds in the study originate in Spanish Colombia, and there is some rather tedious material on the mines themselves.
The book is engaging in spots, and the information is fascinating. But be aware that this book is about a gem as a commodity and the study is as much about trade as about emerals.