Home » Gem News » Book Reviews: Kapur on J. W. Tavernier, Hughes on Ruby/Sapphire, Yavvorskky on Garnet

Book Reviews: Kapur on J. W. Tavernier, Hughes on Ruby/Sapphire, Yavvorskky on Garnet

Jean Baptiste Tavernier, A Life:     KAPURIMAGE

Harish Kapur’ s reasonably well written short resource of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the particular 17th Century gem dealer who all   the Hope Diamond  provides quite a bit  to recommend it.   He covers the important parts of Tavernier’ s life, travels plus writing.   I am particularly used by his ability to extract from the minutia of Tavernier’ s long life, some of the more salient points.    

Unfortunately, the story is marred by a number of informative errors.   The most egregious, possibly resulting from an injudicious use of MSWord’ s find/replace shortcut the word “ diamond” in the last two thirds from the manuscript has been replaced by “ pearl. ”   For the uninformed reader, this results in a number of misstatements about Tavernier’ s objectives plus focus as well as a several absurd claims concerning the “ mining” of pearls and the “ pearl mines” associated with India.   A photo of a sketching from Tavernier’ s Six Voyages, of a diamond that became referred to as Mirror of Portugal is ludicrisly mis-labeled “ The Sara Gem. ”

The author furthermore somehow misquotes Tavernier’ s declaration that he traveled 60, 000 leagues which becomes 600, 000 leagues.   At three miles to the league that leads to the ridiculous declaration that Tavernier traveled not one hundred and eighty, 000 (an amazing accomplishment within the 17th Century) but 1 . 7 million miles, which would have necessary 72 circumnavigations of the earth.  

Kapur also quotes an unfortunate statement made by New York Situations reporter Guy Trebay (1/6/10) recommending that Tavernier may have been involved in the purchase of the Wittelesbach-Graff Gemstone .   Though the diamond will be mentioned in 1677, while Tavernier was STILL in India completing his sixth and final journey, there is absolutely no documentation supporting this concept.   Tavernier did mention various gems he successfully acquired even though he does not actually mention the particular 116 carat Tavernier Blue , the gem that eventually became the Hope, he or she did include a drawing of it in his book, The Six Voyages .

On the in addition side, the book includes various appendices containing documents never before available to the English speaking reader and his research raises a number of intriguing theories regarding Tavernier’ s motivations, moves, life and death.   However, his sloppy copy editing may lead frustrated readers to overlook most of the   author’ s results.

Last, and certainly not minimum, in the bibliography, which includes my partially fictionalized biography of Tavernier, French Blue, the author confuses me with someone named  Robert.


Ruby & Sapphire, A Collector' s Guide

In this general reference which can be viewed as an update and supplement to his classic Ruby and Sapphire, Hughes, as usual, offers a uniquely individual insight into the world of corundum.


HughesUpdate   His ability to blend up to date information with arcane sources is a delight.   This volume together with his previous opus, together associated with best general reference on dark red & sapphire published to date though I do wish Hughes had come up with a title that was not so similar to his first book.


As a bibliophile,   I was especially taken by his section on books and gem libraries.   Even though I have written and read thoroughly in the field and own a voluminous library, Hughes always seems to develop obscure sources which send myself scrambling back to that library to look for an obscure passage and just as frequently to online sellers of rare books.

The photography seems to be a Hughes family project with contributions from his wife Wimon Manorotkul and his daughter E. Billie Hughes.   They are a truly formidable trio.     The pictures are uniformly beautifully composed, sometimes dramatic and always  provacative.  

Never dry, Hughes provides a lively, if somewhat self-conscious and naturally idiosycratic narrative that is rarely off-putting and never dull.

If you missed the first volume here is an opportunity and if you didn' t this book will complete the set.   Ruby & Sapphire, The Collector' s Guide , released by The Gemmological Institute of Asia (GIT), is not readily available in the U. S. Still, given its quality and the limited print run as well as the money saved by direct advertising, it is well worth paying the high delivery costs to get the book  sent directly from Bangkok.



Terra Garnet:  

TGcoverW To round out the year' s splendid offerings, Vladislav Yavvorskky has brought forth his  second book in his Terra series, Terra Garnet .   Such as its predecessor, Terra Spinel (now away from print), this georgeous volume will be sumptuously produced with fabulous pictures of some of the finest garnets on earth.      


Vladislav Yavorskky

The accompanying text is authored by Richard W. Hughes and Jonas Hjornered.   If the reader will be seeking an in depth gemological analysis or history  of garnet as a gemstone it won' t be found here.   Other than brief introductions to  garnet and a bit on producing countries, the  commentary consists of brief captions.   This book is all about the particular pictures and what pictures they are.  

Yavorskky is a gifted photographer and Terra Garnet puts this talent on display.   H is pictures of gem mining and producing areas capture the essence of these often remote areas and   will give the reader an actual taste of the hard life  of  those who seek out precious gems.    

In these  photographs, taken over twenty years, Yavorskky often juxtaposes the particular cut stone against the original tough material, visually  initiating the reader within the awe inspiring   metamorphosis that takes  place as these beaufiful  products of nature are transformed by the hand of guy .   In the past decade, color printing technology has taken a great leap forward  and this book showcases  the very best of it.  

One caveat: I have been adminring Vlad Yavorskky' s gemstones for many years even though they are beautiful in person,   many of these shots appear overproduced and very likely to establish an  unrealistic paradigm  within the mind of the unintiated consumer.

Like Hughes'   book, T erra Garnet is not available via standard channels.   This turns out to be a  good thing, The book is so beautifully and expensively produced that its price would be substantially more if it was.   The reader because advised to act quickly.     Terra Garnet is  available immediate from the publisher




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