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.
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.
The Heartless Stone goes beyond investigative reporting into the regions of the human heart that make the diamond empire possible. It has been called "a dazzling display of intrepid reporting" (Entertainment Weekly) and "an illuminating expose of a mineral and an industry" (The Wall Street Journal).
An American Library Association Notable Book
“[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.” —Salon.com
“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