Secret Life of Diamonds


Happy Valentine's Day, lovelies! Did you find a diamond glittering inside your heart today? Is it sparkling for the ones you love :)

I offer my farewell post on Victoria Finlay's Jewels: A Secret History, because it seemed like the perfect sentiment to acknowledge love in all its shapes and sizes. Like a diamond, love can feel elusive, and it was this particular aspect concerning illusion versus reality that made Finlay's last chapter so delightful.

I'm not a diamond girl. In fact, part of me feels a bit chagrined for all the times that I looked at girlfriend's diamond engagement ring and automatically exclaimed "it's soooo gorgeous!" Like opals, the sparkle of diamonds has always been somewhat disorienting to me, which seems odd because I'm a sucker for a twinkling star or glittering snow.

I guess that's why I loved reading Finlay's book Jewels: A Secret History. She's changed me. She turned my belief system upside down, like a cook that transformed your least favorite veggie into something tantalizing. I'm hooked.

There were a lot of favorite parts in this chapter on diamonds, because honestly everything was so fresh. From finding out that the curse of the Hope diamond was a media ploy to learning that its name comes from the word adamatine (unconquerable), I think Finlay's story about diamonds was one of the most fascinating, because it's built around our perception of value.

I won't ruin the eye-opening story about De Beers and the diamond industry for that alone is worth the purchase of the book. Rather I'd love to share what Gabi Tolkowksy, one of the world's best diamond-cutters, thinks when he begins to fashion a stone: "Whenever I first see a diamond I ask it, 'What do you want to become?' And it says, 'I want to be the most beautiful.'"

For Gabi Tolkowsky, a sculptor of light, every cut is a decision that can never be taken back. Every new facet is another leg on a journey of towards on unknown destination. Every moment of cutting is a yearning to tell the story of a diamond's beauty to its fullest potential.

He understands that each person perceives beauty differently but aptly theorizes that an empty space is created when visualizing an object. An opening in our field of perception that allows the viewer to fill in this space with their own fantasy image. For him, diamonds are the perfect blank canvas, allowing people's imaginations to run free when viewing something completely real.

Some people run towards a blank canvas or empty sheet of paper with gusto, but not me. I'm one of those indecisive folks that squirms when faced with filling space. To think all these years I've been running away from looking into diamonds, I've really been running away from letting my imagination be free.

Thank you Victoria Finlay for writing this book and touching my heart with stories that I will be coming back to over and over again!

Catch up on the rest of Jewels: A Secret History by reading my entire blog series The Secret Life of Gems.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I am not much of a diamond girl myself.
    Wishing you a day full of love!

  2. You encapsulated my favorite part of the diamond chapter so beautifully. Gabi Tolkowsky's quote pops up whenever I start something new and the stones are staring up at me(: The De Beers part almost made me feel a bit nauseous and manioulated - had heard bits and pieces, but nothing as comprehensive as Findlay's piece. Thank you so much for sharing your insights for us, Beth.

  3. What an interesting new perspective, thanks for sharing. Happy Valentine's Day!

  4. Hmmmm....somehow my comment on your post didn't work! Sorry about that!
    I wanted to thank you, Beth, for leading us on this journey through Jewels. I found it to be a fascinating read and one that I will likely pick up again. I thought Finlay was quite courageous to go to such lengths to get to the heart of the story. There is much in the lore of jewels that I did not know, and this book fleshed out the details so well. I have a renewed respect and a keener eye when it comes to these jewels. I plan to re-read parts. One thing I found fascinating was in the index...on birthstones. The fact that the birthstones that we traditionally associate with our months was nothing more than a way for the jewelry industry to push stones that they had in overstock was eye-opening, and I have discussed that with clients who hate their gems! Frees them to like something else that suits them better!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful spirit with us and for introducing us to this great resource! I plan to get a copy of Finlay's Color Palette book next.
    Enjoy the day!

  5. Catherine, so glad you connected with the part about Gabi too. I'm still thinking about it. He seems like a mystical person :)

    Erin, it was so much fun reading this book to together with other people. So you are welcome for keeping the posts going. I think you summed it up perfectly by saying that Finlay had a talent for searching for the heart of a story. I loved the index too. I need to go back and go through some of it again because it was such a great reference.


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