I finished reading Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World by Aja Raden just before I left for the summer, but in the all the chaos I never got arround to really writing about it. That’s something I wanted to correct, because it totally changed the way I look at jewelry, especially pearls.
The book is organized in into sections around the themes of “Want,” “Take,” and “Have.” Within each of these are chapters covering certain types of jewelry or famous pieces. These range from glass beads, to pearls, to Fabrige eggs. The value and impact of these objects is then put into the context of history.
The result of this is a book full of fascinating stories where jewels take center stage. I felt like I learned a lot about history, particularly in the final chapter on Fabrige eggs and the Romanovs. And I learned about those things in a way that, even several months later, feels like it has stuck.
So, who is this book for? The casual reader is really the main audience. Raden is trying to entertain as much as she is trying to educate. However, it is well researched enough that if one of her topics lines up with something your researching it would make for a good source. Since the book prioritized story telling it doesn’t quite work as a reference book, so after reading I would reccomend passing it along for someone else to enjoy.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this and I learned a lot about the history of jewelry. I’m glad I took the time to read it and definitely will be reccomending this to my friends. Bonus: It was thanks to this book that I recognized a reproduction of the necklace commissioned by Louis XVI for Madame du Barry amongst the loot at the end of Oceans Eight.
Disclaimer: I did not pay for the copy of the book used in this review, because it was given to me by a relative who has no relationship with the publisher or author.