Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World
As entertaining as it is incisive, Stoned is a raucous journey through the history of human desire for what is rare, and therefore precious.
What makes a stone a jewel? What makes a jewel priceless? And why do we covet beautiful things? In this brilliant account of how eight jewels shaped the course of history, jeweler and scientist Aja Raden tells an original and often startling story about our unshakeable addiction to beauty and the darker side of human desire.
What moves the world is what moves each of us: desire. Jewelry—which has long served as a stand-in for wealth and power, glamor and success—has birthed cultural movements, launched political dynasties, and started wars. Masterfully weaving together pop science and history, Stoned breaks history into three categories—Want, Take, and Have—and explains what the diamond on your finger has to do with the GI Bill, why green-tinted jewelry has been exalted by so many cultures, why the glass beads that bought Manhattan for the Dutch were initially considered a fair trade, and how the French Revolution started over a coveted necklace.
Studded with lively personalities and fascinating details, Stoned tells the remarkable story of our abiding desire for the rare and extraordinary.
Open on top of a hill at sunrise, pursuant to the directions of the city’s soothsayers, who predicted Goranchacha’s birth. Nine months after being knocked up by the rays of the sun, she gave birth to a guacata, the Chibcha term for a large, glowing emerald. She swaddled it like a baby, took it home, and in a few days it turned into a human infant. The Spanish referred to Goranchacha as the “Spawn of the Devil” and claimed that when the great Tyrant-Chief died, he “disappeared into a cloud of.
A faceted diamond engagement ring, but to her father, Charles the Bold. That part of the story is true. It wasn’t the kind of Tiffany’s diamond solitaire you might be picturing. The diamonds were tiny, and set into the shape of an M. Supposedly it was an M for Mary—although it could just as easily, and even more aptly, have been an M for monarchy or an M for money. It really should have been M for merger. The marriage was actually an elaborate, multinational land deal, as royal marriages so often.
Wasn’t to her taste even back then, she had developed her reputation early as a lover of fine things. And frankly, who else had that kind of money? Unfortunately for the jewelers, she knew that the necklace had been designed and intended for her old enemy, Madame du Barry. She wanted nothing to do with it, much to the despair of the distraught jewelers. Ironically, the necklace destined for the whore, a woman the queen despised, had already taken on morally repugnant connotations for Marie.
Leave? He is obviously a good and quite intelligent man, but he lacks will power, and it is from that character that his state defects developed, that is, his defects as a ruler, especially an autocratic and absolute ruler.” He was right. Nicholas II wasn’t a bad man, he just wasn’t a good man either, and his reign was defined by a terrible combination of incompetence, intransigence, and inevitability. Just Another Bloody Sunday When it was created in 1897, the Coronation Egg was the largest,.
The scarcity effect: Beads nowadays are ubiquitous, cheap, and disposable. Anyone can have them, so they must be worth nothing. The question is: What were they worth? All That Glitters One of my first jobs in the jewelry industry was in the appraisal department of a Chicago auction house, the House of Kahn. On my first day, I was using a lexicon to verify the maker’s marks (which are kind of like artist’s signatures for jewelers) imprinted on dozens of rings. But I was confused by a series of.