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Read online or Download Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World (Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper)
by Aja Raden

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HarperCollins Publishers
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6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)



What does the diamond on your finger have to do with the GI Bill? Why is green-tinted jewelry exalted by so many cultures? Why were the glass beads that bought Manhattan for the Dutch initially considered a fair trade? And how did a coveted necklace start the French Revolution? In this delightful account of how eight jewels shaped the course of history, jeweler and scientist Aja Raden tells an original and often startling story about why we covet beautiful things and how that desire has transformed the world as we know it.

What moves the world is what moves each of us: desire. Jewelry has long served as a stand-in for wealth and power, glamour and success: It has birthed cultural movements, launched political dynasties, and started wars. With a sharp wit and a light touch, Raden weaves together history, science, and economics to explore our enduring love affair with beautiful things and shows us that, just like their glittering surfaces, jewels have a singular power to reflect our desires back at us and show us who we really are.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jeweler and historian Raden discusses the intersection of desire, power, and economics through seven stories of some of the world’s most famous jewels. This journey through space and time takes readers through the purchase of Manhattan in 1626 from the Lenape natives by the Dutch for 24 dollars’ worth of glass beads, to the whole-cloth invention of the engagement ring “tradition” in the late 1940s by the diamond company De Beers. Along the way Raden shows how the importation of emeralds from South and Central America led the Spanish Empire to create the “world’s first interest-paying government bond,” in addition to setting the stage for colonialism. She also tells the story of how a diamond necklace, used as an emblem of Marie Antoinette’s corrupt excesses, helped spark the French Revolution. With these among other mini history lessons, Raden opens the discussion to a multitude of subjects including the psychology of desire and envy, the elemental makeup of diamonds, and the pearl-culturing process. Raden’s commentary on the often ugly side of human desire through the ages is consistently captivating, and her witty delivery makes the occasionally dry material shine. 16-page full-color photo insert. (Dec.)

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