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Buried Treasure

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  951 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
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, ...more
Hardcover
Published March 27th 2006 by Sceptre (first published January 1st 2006)
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Madeline
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In the course of my research I found that although, of course, some rare stones have amazing and frightening dynastic tales, every jewel, however small or flawed, has its story: about the earth that was excavated to retrieve it, the families who depended on it, the people who designed the cutting method, those who bought or were given it, and the meanings and properties attributed to it. Whole human, geological, and cultural histories are wrapped up in every stone we wear or desire, even if it ...more
Kam
A couple of years ago, my aunt went into a jewelry phase. She began to take interest in not just precious gems, but in semiprecious stones, primarily because some of them were reputed to have special properties for healing and protection. She then got my mother into it, and for a while they shopped without my knowledge, mostly because I had work at the time, and moreover was more inclined to put money away than spend it. But during one summer, I started accompanying my mother on her trips with m ...more
D.A.
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An indispensable exploration of the role jewels have played in human culture economically, socially, spiritually and decoratively. Finlay looks closely at 9 gems, starting with the soft organic amber, jet and pearl, ending with the heavy hitters of gemology: emeralds, sapphires, rubies and diamonds. Structurally, the book begins with gems that are formed by or within living matter. By the time we get to diamonds, we have gone oddly full circle, as Finlay introduces us to gems that may be produce ...more
NancyHelen
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, quiddich
I love this kind of non-fiction - is is enjoyable, readable and informative. The combination of history, science, philosophy, travelogue and memoir in this book was fantastic. It is one of the easiest ways to learn about something which could be quite dry if handled differently. I know more about jewels than I could have possibly imagined before and not one piece of it was boring.
Brittany
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciencewriting
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Victoria Finlay is a gifted storyteller. She profiles nine different jewels (pleasingly, in order of Moh's scale). She discusses the geological origin, cultural history, historical symbolism and economics of each stone, but in a way that's entirely conversational and engaging. Her book never feels like a lecture, it always feels like a story you'd hear from a fascinating, well-traveled friend over drinks. Findlay is adventurous in her quest for detail, often going ...more
Eva
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another well researched book by Victoria Finlay. With her books, you really have to read the preface to learn how she began her research, what's her resultant thesis, where the tale will take you. Her books are classic examples of a fully developed research project.
Finlay organized her book using Mohs' scale of hardness for gemstones. She begins with the softest, amber, and ends with the hardest, diamonds. The book covers where they are found, what they are made of, some history of their popula
...more
Brandon
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
In her third book Ms. Finlay has mined historic literature for the mythology and mystique that surround gems of note; her debunking of the curse of the Hope Diamond, for instance, is hilarious. She also globetrots to the countries of a gems origin, at times literally descending into the mines. Her own anecdotal experiences become part of the scintillating, like being stalled in a taxi during an elephant parade in Sri Lanka (elephant parades are good for the sapphire business, as such a gem that ...more
Meaghan
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really fascinating book, each chapter telling the in-depth story of the history of each particular gemstone. I would recommend it for anyone interested in jewelry and/or microhistories. Amber, pearls, jet, peridot, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and diamonds were all covered. My only complaint would be that I wish more stones had been covered; for example amethysts or citrines or really anything in the quartz family.
Kara
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miscellaneous

A dense read - and surprisingly more about current events than history.

Each section is based on a jewel, going by the current level of value we assign them, ending, obviously, with diamonds.

The narrator traveled to a lot of areas to research the current jewel industry and all of its horrors and puts in a lot of history along the way to show how we got from past to present, but personally I would have preferred a more chronological rather than subject based approach.
Adam White
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book. History and Gemmology who could find a better introduction. Also some ripping yarns thrown in. Did I say, I love this book!
Karen Levi
I gave the book 3 stars because sometimes I got lost in the details. There were sections somewhat repetitious. She kept coming back to Cleopatra, Mark Antony, and Julius Ceasar. Roman history is not my thing, but that's just me. All in all, it was an interesting read and I like the organization of the book, chapters by gem and going from soft to hard gems. I certainly feel I learned a great deal about amber, pearls, opals, peridot, emeralds, sapphires and rubies, and diamonds. I loved the intern ...more
Alison
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Jewels: A Secret History This seemed to be the most referenced book in Stoned by Aja Raden. So I picked it up from the library as well. I'm glad I read Stoned first. I liked Raden's style of writing more than Finlay's.
 
Jewels is an interesting read too, I just found it a little dry. Also I wish the book had footnotes rather than notes at the back. It was annoying to have to keep flipping back and forth while reading.
Vanessadoes
Jun 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
way too dark and depressing for me. there was lots of interesting science but in the culture and history departments the author seemed to gravitate towards the most occult, creepy, depressing things possible rather than what she purports the book to be in the introduction, a celebration of the beauty and rich poetic symbolism held by gemstones. it felt like reading the inquirer.
Marilyn Brooks
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read. I am keeping this book, unless I pass it along to someone. But lots of good information and enjoyed the author's tales of her field research; sounded like fun travel.
Treasa
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful book by Victoria Finlay. Personally, not as easy of a read as Color, but still very much enjoyed.
Sasha
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this cute book - part travelogue,part encyclopedia - Victoria Finlay tells a story about jewels, their history, where do they come from and our perception of them. As one of the characters in the book said, "you can't eat them, you can't read them, you can't shelter under them" and still people seems to be obsessed with them to the point they lose lives in order to get them. Finlay travels far and wide to get informations about Amber,Jet,Pearl,Opal,Peridot,Emerald,Sapphire,Ruby and Diamond, m ...more
Kate
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Пару лет назад я прочитала первую книги Финли - про краски. Мне тогда очень понравилась и тема, и сама автор. Как она умеет копаться в материале, как она умеет расследовать старые тайны! Многие из них просто лежат на поверхности и ждут, когда кто-нибудь обратит на них внимание. Но за вторую книгу я почему-то ленилась взяться. И очень-очень зря.
Кзалось бы, книга раскрывает секреты всего нескольких драгоценных камней. Но это не фантастические истории о прОклятых алмазах, не скучные физические пара
...more
Bob Anderson
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finlay’s book on precious gems is an interesting combination of social history and travelog. The various ancient sites where royalty had their subjects mine and sift for brilliantly colored stones all make appearances in the present as well: Finlay visits many of these cities and ruins and sees where that long history of wealth got them. From dusty emerald mines in the deserts of Egypt to the dying town of Peridot in Apache territory, by far the most interesting part of this book is the relation ...more
Ian
Author Victoria Finlay takes the reader on a diverting rummage through the jewel box.

The book is partly a travelogue and partly a micro history of the subject. It is structured in 9 chapters looking at a different type of gem in each. Broadly speaking the chapters cover the geographical sources of each featured gem, the people who mine/collect it, and the part each type of gem has played in human society, in particular how the value of particular gems has risen or fallen at different times in hu
...more
Lisa James
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BEAUTIFULLY written! You learn while you read, you get to virtually travel with her on her adventures, & you end up insanely jealous of all the fantastic experiences she had along the way! The book is organized by jewel hardness, which made complete sense to me, & the stories she has to tell are fascinating. I handed it to a friend of mine last night who's a geology major in college & said you HAVE to read this!
Alumine Andrew
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favourite
This is the second of Findlay’s books which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. I was travelling at the time and found it a good book to pick up and read in snatches.
This is a book about precious stones and where they come from, their history and their worth. “Travels through the jewellery box” is how she puts it.
I was amazed to discover that Amber comes from the Baltic region and how many people have died harvesting it. I had just bought some pearls and it was great timing to be able to read more
...more
Ape
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Bookcrossing 2007:

It's like history/social anthropology/travel/geology all mixed up into one. It is a fascinating book, I really enjoyed it. Something I could come back to. There's just so much in it that it's hard to know where to begin to say what I liked.

I think the final chapter, on diamonds, was a particular eye-opener, and I don't think I will ever look at them in quite the same way again. They do have this reputation of being the 'top-gem' and yet there are so many of them out there and t
...more
Jessica
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was right up my alley, a combination travel memoir/natural history/geography/geology book, and was my favorite nonfiction read from 2007. I do love interdisciplinary books that help show how complex our world is...Ms. Finlay traveled the world getting the stories on the geology of common gems as well as the personal stories of the people who collect/mine them. She used Moh's hardness scale as the structure of the book, with stories of her own gems given to her as gifts as the sentimental he ...more
Alexi
Written by Victoria Finlay, author of "Color", "Jewels: A Secret History" is a must-read for anyone who enjoys both history and gemstones, jewelry, and/or design! I love this author because she takes a given material and go on a huge exploration of it, it's provenance, history, and uncovers a rich and complex story of how it has come to be known by us today, in the process uncovering stories and mysteries one didn't even know were there! The result is magical! In "Color" she did it with colors a ...more
Mallee Stanley
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This non-fiction book deals with the history of precious stones and the author's journeys to the places where these stones were once mined. I found myself drawn to some of the stones such as jet which I had previously not heard of.

Had I been an avid jewellery collector, I would have given this book an extra star because it was well presented as well as researched.
Brenda Mengeling
I have had a fascination with gems and jewelry since I was a child, and I enjoy reading travel memoirs. Therefore, I thought Jewels: A Secret History would by a perfect read for me. And I did enjoy it by and large. However, it didn't hold my interest consistently. Ms Finlay chose gems to write about going up the Moh's hardness scale, and this limited the number of gems she chose. For example, she covered emerald but not the other colors of beryl. I also found what she chose to cover sometimes od ...more
Andrea
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book with such a narrow focus, but this was a really enjoyable read. For each gemstone, Finlay dug into not only the history and relative value but the traditions and cultures that were shaped or influenced by the gem throughout it’s known history. I don’t think many of us stop to really think about gems, but this book provided some really interesting history of how gem popularity has changed over the centuries, how science has forever changed the valuation an ...more
Monica Williams
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit I don't read much non fiction. It just doesn't call out to me like fiction does. I read Victoria Finlay's colors which had the most gorgeous cover image, but as I remember the book was a bit on the dry side. Jewels, which as the author says sprang from some of the research she did for Colors more than redeems her earlier drier effort. The book is organized using the Moh's Scale of hardness of stone going from the softest to the hardest stones. Finaly look at more that just stones ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
I loved this book! Victoria Finley took me on a rambling journey through the world of gemstones, by the end I almost felt as if I had been on an actual holiday.

Instead this book took me on an extended ramble through the world and time, in search of specific gems. We spend time in Egypt, visiting the ruined remains of Cleopatra's Emerald mines. Jet had us visiting part of the Uk and extensive period was spent back in time on the Baltic and in Northern Europe discovering Amber. Sapphires took us t
...more
Inês França
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I'm sure it wasn't intended, "Jewels" comes across at as a bit of a downer. There isn't one of the precious materials (Amber, Jet, Pearl, Opal, Peridot, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond)approached that doesn't have a sad story of exploitation and poverty at its base. My favourite chapters were "Pearl" and "Diamond" because they really go into the way in which an artificial desire was planted in the minds of consumers by clever marketers and savvy companies, for what are basically worthl ...more
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How did she decide which gems to include? 1 2 Aug 20, 2015 11:00AM  
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Victoria Finlay is a writer and journalist, known for her books on colour and jewels. Her most famous book is Colour: Travels Through The Paint Box.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Victoria Finlay...
“...almost every pearl on sale today was born of the planned sexual violation of a small creature, and that considerable suffering hangs on those necklace strings.” 16 likes
“I realized it was like a dating agency: the ions are the lost souls looking for mates; the electrolyte is the agency that can help them find each other.” 11 likes
More quotes…