An absorbing voyage into the demimonde of the diamantaire.
Canadian journalist Hart, editor of the trade journal Rapaport Diamond Report, knows his diamonds, which he rather fancifully calls “windows polished into the heart of man.” Moreover, he knows by face and name many of the principal players in the world diamond trade. Some of those he profiles in this lively narrative are the brothers Campos, garimpeiros (small-scale miners) who in May 1999 found a rare 81-carat pink diamond that wandered the earth, selling for millions of dollars here, reselling for many millions more there; officers of the highly secretive De Beers company, which, until very recently, held a near-worldwide monopoly on the diamond trade; and maverick geologists such as the young Canadian Eira Thomas, whose hunches about mineral deposits in the Arctic turned up a trove estimated to contain 138 million carats of diamonds, enough to supply the world market for at least 20 years—and enough, in combination with other factors, to break the De Beers cartel. Hart observes that diamonds are common throughout the universe. Carbon, from which they are formed, is the fourth most abundant element, he writes, and many of the meteorites that arc across the galaxies contain diamonds in concentrations 300 times richer than the average terrestrial mine; geologists conjecture that a barrage of such meteorites seeded the earth over many millions of years, so that “the diamond on someone’s finger might contain at its center a dot of a jewel whose antiquity goes back 10 billion years.” But diamonds tend to be located where they’re hard to get to, and those who know where to look understandably tend to be close-mouthed about the whole business.
Hart doubtless keeps a few secrets for himself, but he unlocks many more in a text studded with oddments, lore, and technical data, all lightly related. Diamond fanciers and geology buffs alike will find this a trove of information.