Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Stoned by Aja Raden

Ms. Raden has crafted a very detailed, very reasoned, very interesting book about famous gems and minerals and their role in human history. Did you know that the first wristwatch was encased in gold and diamonds, made for a Hungarian countess in 1876, and that it wasn’t until World War I that these personal timepieces were regarded as practical and “manly” tools? That’s just one of the tidbits of knowledge included in this examination of how the desire, ownership, and manipulation of jewellery has changed the lives of individuals and, in many cases, the course of history. The section on the Faberge eggs alone is both sobering and illuminating. Raden, who has degrees in history and physics and is also a former Tacori designer, takes a slice-of-life approach and includes a healthy amount of sarcasm in describing and analyzing the lure of precious stones and adornments over time while also illustrating that what we think we know about value and rarity and lore may be bass-ackwards. Let’s just say you may not think so poorly of Marie Antoinette after you read this book!

(If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Bejeweled: Great Designers, Celebrity Style, by Penny Proddow, Diamonds, Gold, and War: the British, the Boers, and the making of South Africa, by Martin Meredith, Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, by Elizabeth Taylor, Faberge Eggs: a Retrospective Encyclopedia, by Will Lowesor The Sancy Blood Diamond: Power, Greed, and the Cursed History of one of the World’s most Coveted Gems, by Susan Ronald.)

( publisher’s official Stoned web site ) | ( official Aja Raden Facebook page )

Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library

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