(Rapaport…May 25, 2006) What did a broken marriage proposal do for author Tom Zoellner? He wrote a book about the diamond pipeline titled: The Heartless Stone. The book is scheduled for release on May 30, 2006.
In a recent interview with New Times in Phoenix, Arizona, Zoellner said that after his fiancé returned the engagement ring to him, the memories associated with the diamond ring were painful reminders of the breakup. Zoellner set-out on a global journey to follow the diamond pipeline –from mine to market– and he calls the industry “one of the most opaque” on the globe.
He told the press that “people who sell diamonds have been good at keeping secret what happens between the mine and the mall,” but he added that while his investigation is not new to the publishing industry, how he builds all pipeline issues into one story should set the book apart from the others.
While Zoellner said it is not a simple case of reading his book and walking away with a sense of good or bad feelings about diamonds, the main point was that there is no way to know where the diamond has been. “It could have been killed for or slaved over by a 10-year-old. That little stone on your spouse’s finger could have a very upsetting pedigree,” he told New Times.
The author stated that the diamantaires he approached for interviews were “unfailingly polite,” and that the industry is not an evil empire.
In a publicized excerpt from The Heartless Stone, Zoellner writes: “The smuggler watched me peer into the rock. He said something in French to his friends. One of them tapped out a quick rhythm in his hand with the butt of his cell phone. Another glanced at the door to the alley and fingered the edge of the jacket he wore, even though it was a warm day.”
“‘You brought these from the Congo?’ I asked.”
“‘Today,’ he said. ‘In a wooden canoe rowed over to Bangui.’ The mine itself was several hundred kilometers away, down a road into the jungle. I looked again at the dull yellow shape, wondering about its history, pretending I knew what I was looking at.”
Zoellner said he didn’t buy the smuggled diamond offered him, and that he had only bought a diamond once before — at a jeweler’s store in California. He said he asked the jeweler were the diamond came from, and she replied, “‘I don’t know.'”
“‘Is there any way to tell?’ I asked.”
“‘Not really,’ she said. ‘Probably Africa. That’s where they all come from.'”
The Heartless Stone details Zoellner’s travels across Canada, New York’s diamond district, Brazil, central and southern Africa, India, Russia, Japan, and Australia.