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Publisher's Summary

What makes a stone a jewel? What makes a jewel priceless? And why do we covet beautiful things? In this brilliant account of how eight jewels shaped the course of history, jeweler and scientist Aja Raden tells an original and often startling story about our unshakeable addiction to beauty and the darker side of human desire.
What moves the world is what moves each of us: desire. Jewelry - which has long served as a stand-in for wealth and power, glamour and success - has birthed cultural movements, launched political dynasties, and started wars. Masterfully weaving together pop science and history, Stoned breaks history into three categories - want, take, and have - and explains what the diamond on your finger has to do with the GI Bill, why green-tinted jewelry has been exalted by so many cultures, why the glass beads that bought Manhattan for the Dutch were initially considered a fair trade, and how the French Revolution started over a coveted necklace. Studded with lively personalities and fascinating details, Stoned tells the remarkable story of our abiding desire for the rare and extraordinary.
©2015 Aja Raden (P)2016 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

" Stoned is an intriguing take on world history with plenty of adornment and anecdote to entertain us along the way." ( Self Awareness)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Zaubermond on 12-27-16

Cringe-inducing, vapid, and self-conscious

I have been a passionate reader of gemology and jewellery history books since I was a young girl. At last count, the family library contained over 200 volumes on these subjects, and I'm always looking for new additions. I hoped this might become one of them, but I have rarely regretted reading a book so much.

Not only is there nothing new here, but the author intrusion is insufferable! When I began the book, I thought perhaps it would be personal and emotive in the style of Victoria Findlay's "Jewels." That would have been great. But sadly, the author is so in love with the sound of her own voice and trying to be cute that the information on gemstones is obscured.

Every few paragraphs there is a narrative-stopping heading such as, "Did the earth move?" and "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition," and "Money, that's what I want." A little of that goes a long way and a third of the way into the book, I realized most of the author's random and meaningless observations are not worthy of a tweet, far less inclusion in a book. Even listening to the section about my favorite stone, emerald, was painful.

But Raden doesn't just mistake puerile and trite sound bites for wit. She is truly offensive in a great many things she writes. For example, Ferdinand and Isabella "Put the 'ick' in Catholic." Do you find this amusing? I wonder if her publisher would have thought it was a great idea to say, "Puts the 'ew' in Jew." I think not. My family is of mixed Jewish and Roman Catholic believers, so perhaps I am overly sensitive to "jokes" about religion.

If you trim the fat from this bloated screed, then take out the author's massive self-regard, vapid observations, and inane "insights," you are left with little more than a pamphlet.

The narrator was a perfect match because her bizarre, annoying, disaffected-then-overaffected style is well-suited to this horrific mess.

If you want books about jewellery, gemology, and history that bring gravitas, solid research, dignity, and literary merit with them, I'd recommend the following:

For jewellery history, anything from Diana Scarisbrick and Charlotte Gere.

A wonderful all-in-one book is GEMS IN MYTH, LEGEND, AND LORE from the gemologist-jeweler Bruce Knuth. Story meets science in this indispensable and economical compendium. There are no pictures, however.

For gemology, anything from Cally Oldershaw is divine.

Many other excellent antique books are in the public domain online: see Davenport, Wodiska, Kunz, King, etc.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Maja Wiggins on 02-25-16

Great book- bad narrator

What made the experience of listening to Stoned the most enjoyable?

So many interesting facts,history, great research. I was always interested in " stones of value" I love everything author Aja Raden has put together.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Stoned?

History,interesting facts and how some things got connected through circumstances. Great point of view.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Narrator is not very good. She has some kind of her own pace and almost sings some of the words ,in some kind of her own rhythm. Her accentuating of certain words has nothing to do with the story. She finishes sentences in some kind of tone..I don't see that she is interested in what she is reading, she is doing it - but in an annoying way. After listening Ms.Sastre narrating Gods and Kings- I am so annoyed with Ms.Eyre. I was looking forward to enjoy this book, but narrator has ruined my ultimate experience...I'll put up with her this time, but I will not listen to her again. I just can't stomach her uninterested and strange reading style.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes, narrator is really bad.

Any additional comments?

I hope author knows how narration of this book can ruin overall experience. Book is great.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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