Perhaps the most prized of all gems, diamonds have a long and fascinating history. In this engrossing, profusely illustrated volume, that history is covered in detail — from early discoveries in the Golconda mines of India (probably the site of the first diamonds ever unearthed) and digs in Brazil, to the South African diamond rush and development of major mining companies. Over 200 illustrations include step-by-step photos showing how these valuable stones are mined and the intricacies of cutting and faceting, while reproductions of museum paintings and photographs depict famous individual diamonds as well as outstanding rings, bracelets, brooches, pins, earrings, watches, tiaras, and other traditional and modern diamond pieces. Here also are stories of the most famous and infamous diamonds: the Koh-i-Noor in the Tower of London, the Hope in the Smithsonian Institution, the Regent in the Louvre, the Orloff in the Kremlin, and many other celebrated jewels. More than a dramatically told story of diamonds, this volume will also serve as a practical guide for anyone who owns a diamond or plans to buy one. It explains and illustrates different diamond cuts, the role of carats, and how to buy diamonds — for sentiment, beauty, show, flawlessness, or investment. Anyone who has ever been captivated by the matchless brilliance of these rare gems will find this book an informative, highly readable addition to their personal library.