By Matthew Hart
Walker and Co., New York
Matthew Hart is a gifted story-teller. His new book is fact, but it reads like a novel. He turns the search and mining of diamonds into a spell-binding drama.
The scope of his new book is focused on several large diamonds finds — an 81-carat pink from the jungles of Brazil, and the discovery of Canada’s first major diamond mine by explorer Charles Fipke. While we are very familiar with the story of Fipke, the book also tells the previously unknown (to us, anyway) story of Eira Thomas, a 24-year-old female geologist who played a major role in the Canadian rush. It’s a fascinating angle to the story, since it’s common to think of diamond explorers and adventures as mostly men.
His book also covers the controversy over “conflict diamonds,” the wholesale diamond trade and the cutting of the 599-carat Centenary Diamond, the adventures of explorer Chris Jennings, and the history of Antwerp diamond wholesaler Rosy Blue.
Hart has written on diamonds for such publications as the Atlantic Monthly and the Financial Post, as well as the Rapaport Report. While portions of his book, such as the tale of the battles in South Africa between Cecil Rhodes and Barney Banato, the diamond moguls that formed De Beers, have been told many times, Mr. Hart’s book is hard to put down.
Diamond dealers, connoisseurs, people who want to learn more about this industry, as well as adventure enthusiasts will find this book fascinating reading.