FINE ARTS

Ruby: The King of Gems

Thames & Hudson. 2017. 268p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780500519417. $125. DEC ARTS
COPY ISBN
Gemologist Hardy (Emerald) provides a cultural history of the ruby, a rarer gemstone than the white diamond. Using the hidden archives from Hennell, one of London's oldest silversmiths and jewelers, among other sources, Hardy investigates a comprehensive range of ruby jewels, from the medieval period to the present. Starting with the ancient ruby mines in Burma, the author first distinguishes the ruby from the spinel jewel, explaining that each gemstone splits light in a different way, thus clarifying that rubies are found only in shades of red, while spinels can also look pink or orange. Famous jewels and collectors are highlighted, including Queen Victoria's Indian tiara, the Duchess of Roxburghe's rubies by Boucheron, Marjorie Merriweather Post's jewels by Van Cleef and Arpels, and Elizabeth Taylor's perfect ruby ring (a gift from Richard Burton).
VERDICT With an elegant silky red fabric cover, gorgeous photographs, and archival drawings of precious jewels, this is recommended for jewelry enthusiasts and collectors.

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