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Book Cover for: Precious: The History and Mystery of Gems Across Time, Helen Molesworth

Precious: The History and Mystery of Gems Across Time

Helen Molesworth

A renowned jewelry expert tells the story of her career working with nature's most extraordinary treasures--gemstones--and traces these rare jewels from ancient Egyptian records through the high-stakes auctions of today

Helen Molesworth has been captivated by precious stones since early childhood, but when she tried to join the gemstone industry as a fresh-faced university graduate, she struggled, having no connections in a patriarchal field dominated for centuries by a few family-run companies. She persevered, finding a job at a jewelry market stall in London while studying gemology at night. Two-plus decades later, Molesworth is now an international authority, having been hired to appraise the extraordinary jewelry of such clients as the British royal family. Her book is packed with inside stories about fabulous jewels associated with generations of celebrities, from Cleopatra (emerald) to Catherine, Princess of Wales (sapphire); from Marilyn Monroe (pearl) to Beyoncé (garnet); from Jackie O (pearl) to Lady Gaga (diamond); from Marie Antoinette (pearl) to Elizabeth Taylor (pearl, ruby, and emerald)!

As Molesworth tells it, the history of gemstones is the history of humanity. And so she journeys the world, trudging through African diamond mines, Colombian emerald mines, and the sapphire-rich rivers of Sri Lanka to study gems at their source. She has selected ten of nature's most dazzling gems, tracing their first discovery and first trades, from when some cut-and-polished masterpieces adorned empresses and kings, while others fell in and out of favor, only to be resurrected to raise eye-watering sums in a later era.

From the priceless emerald watch hidden under floorboards for centuries to the common quartz fashioned into world-famous royal jewels, and diamonds selling for multi-millions, Precious is not just a story of archeology and geology, high society and high finance; it's the story of our timeless ambition to make--and wear--something beautiful.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Publish Date: Sep 17th, 2024
  • Pages: 336
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00in - 1.25lb
  • EAN: 9780593500880
  • Categories: JewelryJewelrySocial History

About the Author

Helen Molesworth's career has spanned the global gem and jewelry industry, from roles with leading auction and jewelry houses to academic posts. For ten years she was a jewelry specialist for Sotheby's and Christie's in London and Geneva, where she handled sales of global importance, including the private jewelry collection of HRH The Princess Margaret. As a gemologist and jewelry historian, she has since held roles as Professeur d'Histoire du Bijoux at the Geneva University of Art and Design, Managing Director at the House of Gübelin, and most recently as the Senior Jewelry Curator at London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Precious is her first book for general readers.
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