From the author of Women from the Ankle Down comes a lively cultural biography of diamonds, which explores our society’s obsession with the world’s most brilliant gemstone and the real-world characters who make them shine.
“A diamond is forever.” Who among us doesn’t recognize this phrase and, with it, the fascination that these shiny gemstones hold in our collective imagination as symbols of royalty, stars, and eternal love? But who gave us this catchphrase? Where do these gemstones and their colorful legacies originate? How did they become our culture’s symbol of engagement and marriage? Why have they retained their coveted status throughout the centuries?
Rachelle Bergstein’s cultural biography of the diamond illuminates the enticing, often surprising, story of our society’s enduring obsession with the hardest gemstone—and the people who have worked tirelessly to ensure their continued allure. From the South African mines where most diamonds have been sourced since the late 1890s to the companies who have fought to monopolize them; from the stars who have dazzled in them to the people behind the scenes who have carefully crafted our understanding of their value—Brilliance and Fire offers a glittering history of the world’s most coveted gemstone and its greatest champions and most colorful enthusiasts.
Illustrated with sixteen pages of color photographs, this “biography” is filled with tantalizing anecdotes of the likes of Wallis Simpson, for whom Cartier created their iconic diamond-encrusted panther bracelet; Elizabeth Taylor, who made her numerous lovers prove their adoration through the gems they bestowed upon her; and “Jacob the Jeweler” and Ben Baller, the edgy contemporary jewelers who create custom bling for hip-hop stars from Jay-Z to Kanye. Smart, lively, and engaging,Brilliance and Fire is as dazzling as the very diamonds Bergstein reveals in a new light.