The Heartless Stone

A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire

Tom Zoellner


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An American Library Association Notable Book
When he proposed to his girlfriend, Tom Zoellner gave what is expected of every American man--a diamond engagement ring. But when the relationship broke apart, he was left with a used diamond that began to haunt him. His obsession carried him around the globe; from the "blood diamond" rings of Africa; to the sweltering polishing factories of India; to mines above the Arctic Circle; to illegal diggings in Brazil; to the London headquarters of De Beers, the secretive global colossus that has dominated the industry for more than a century and permanently carved the phrase "A diamond is forever" on the psyche. An adventure story in the tradition of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, The Heartless Stone is a voyage into the cold heart of the world's most unyielding gem.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One
Dying Stars
Central African Republic
They had come across the river that morning, he said, as he took the stones from his pocket.
He set them in a line on the patio table. They looked melted and yellowish, as if someone had put them to a blowtorch. The smuggler and his three friends studied me as I held one up to the sunlight and tried to peer into it.
We’re going to have to make this quick, said the man who owned the house. The police could come in, and then we’d all be in jail. He smiled vaguely at this thought.

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Praise for The Heartless Stone

"[A] dazzling display of intrepid reporting."--Entertainment Weekly
"Exhaustively researched and beautifully written."--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Zoellner has an eye for the telling detail, a nose for trouble, and an ability to quickly re-create a scene's mood and sense of place. Wherever he is, he puts you there. . . . A graceful, well-documented tour through decades of diamond-related lore."
"An illuminating exposé of a mineral and an industry."--The Wall Street Journal
"Still want a diamond? Before laying out your cash, Zoellner advises that you first understand its origins. . . . An informative book that's equal parts history and travelogue."--Rocky Mountain News
"Riveting . . . A fascinating story."--The Arizona Republic
"A sobering and well-reported look at today's diamond culture."--The Salt Lake Tribune
"Eye-opening . . . With a sharp narrative style and wealth of detail, The Heartless Stone cuts through the sparkle and marketing to show us that a rock is what you make of it."--St. Petersburg Times
"[Tom Zoellner's] investigation into the global diamond industry shatters the mystique with all the vengeance of a jilted lover."--The Oregonian
"A mesmerizing guided tour full of meticulously researched history, interviews, personal stories, and reflections. The Heartless Stone is scrupulous nonfiction that reads like a novel."--Bloomberg News
"It's got all the requisite ingredients of intriguing journalism: greed, sex, gaping economic disparities, and glamour. It's too bad it took a failed engagement to prompt this book, but Zoellner has risen from the romantic ashes with The Heartless Stone. . . . He doesn't miss a stop on the diamond road, hopping from Africa to South America to the British Isles in pursuit of the gem whose exclusivity is based only on the tight control of a few greedy individuals. That little blue Tiffany box might never look the same."--Bookmarks magazine
"Zoellner's sharp, observant descriptions of people and places will sensitize readers to the wider processes of monopoly, smuggling, and war, all of which lurk in the background when a suitor buys a ring for his beloved."--Booklist
"Zoellner's book is part personal travelogue, using the return of his own proffered diamond engagement ring as the starting point, and part investigative journalism. . . . The end result? A gem."--Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner has worked as a contributing editor for Men’s Health magazine and as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also the coauthor of An Ordinary Man, the autobiography of Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina. He lives in New York City.

Tom Zoellner


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Available Formats and Book Details

The Heartless Stone
A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire
Tom Zoellner

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
June 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312339708
ISBN10: 0312339704
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 352 pages, Includes one map

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
April 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429910125
ISBN10: 1429910127
304 pages

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