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Diamond: The History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair Paperback – August 27, 2002
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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.
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Diamond mining is apparently a very risky business that comes complete with its own cast of colorful characters, schemers, backstabbers, awfully unethical companies, very talented artisans. Mr. Hart captures the nuances of the careers of this varied cast and does so with a thoroughness that is seldom seen. For example he discusses the intricacies of polishing and cleaving diamonds and brings the entire process to life through his vivid descriptions of the skilled people in New York, and Antwerp who make it happen. The way in which an expert labors, actually obsesses, about the potential cut and the number of facets that he'd like to use on a piece of diamond rough, the mathematical precision with which he brings his vision to life and the single minded attention to detail in an enterprise that could make or break fortunes with the tiny slip of a cutters wheel.....remarkable prose. His discussion of the evolution of the Centenary diamond owned by De Beers is scintillating in that it illustrates the dilemmas that the artisans face when they have to turn a rough diamond into an object of desire.
In equal measure he discusses the developments in Brazil, India and South Africa showing how industry performance drivers are changing and how these factors make or break the viability of new finds. His elucidation of the latest developments in geology and prospecting are equally interesting even to those with a passing interest.
I know I am waxing poetic about this book. I really feel very strongly positive about the contents that Mr. Hart has placed in his reader's hands. Thank you for a wonderful read Mr. Hart.
Hart periodically digresses for explanations of how diamonds are formed, a brief history of De Beers Consolidated Mines, and exotic stories of famous and famously expensive diamonds. But this book's primary focus is on developments in the diamond industry over the past few decades. Two chapters are dedicated to the breathless race to find and exploit diamond pipes in Canada in the 1990s, from the innovative use of high-chrome low-calcium garnets as diamond indicators to the frantic "staking rush" that pit BHP, Aber, and Dia Met against one another in Canada's frozen Barrens.
We peek inside Nos. 2 and 17 Charterhouse Street in London, where De Beers diamonds are sorted and sold, and "Diamonds" brings us up to date on the cartel's abandonment of its historic "market custodian" role. (For an in-depth account of De Beers' fascinating and speckled history, see Stephan Kanfer's The Last Empire.) There is a chapter on the hazards and thrills of cutting and polishing diamonds, including the 274-carat, 247-facet Centenary Diamond, cut by Gabi Tolkowsky in 1991. No discussion of diamonds would be complete without mentioning its time-honored "culture of brigandage", as Hart puts it, so he regales us with tales of modern diamond crooks.
Particularly interesting is the rise of India's diamond polishers, who created the market for low-end diamonds from stones that had not previously been considered gem quality and thereby changed the economics of diamond mining. Hart dedicates a chapter to the issues raised by the "diamond wars", or "blood diamonds". This was written during the Sierra Leone Civil War and before the Kimberly Process. "Diamonds" jumps around a lot, covering a lot of geography and various aspects of the business. As a whole, it presents a picture of how and why the diamond industry changed in recent decades and what it is today.