Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The French Blue by Richard W. Wise

The French Blue

By Richard W. Wise

The French Blue is being promoted as the back story of the Hope diamond...but this book is so much more!

Through the telling of the life of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Richard Wise gives us a glimpse into life in the 17th century. Sure, Wise covers the nobility that you all ready know about...but he also brings to life the daily life of the peasant, the retailer, the stone cutter and the miners he meets along the way.

It is no surprise that the son of a cartographer would develop a wanderlust, a need to explore the countries and far places his father charted. The 17th Century was a time of discovery, conquering new lands, Kings, Emperors, Shahs and Sheiks.

Tavernier starts his life serving in the courts of the nobility of the day, he is taken into their confidences and is trusted by those he meets...this reputation serves him well in the course of his life. These are the days when gem deals were done with a hand shake and Tavernier's proves himself. He is a seeker of knowledge, and most importantly an honest man.

This book has it all adventure, pirates, travel to foreign lands, incredible jewels from the earth and the collections of moguls...oh yeah did I mention it also has romance? Tavernier is not just a gem trader and traveler - he is a man. In his travels he romances several women and we meet the daughter of a Courtesan and a Sultan - the woman who is destined to be the love of his life.

In the instant world that is today - it is hard to imagine, but in the 17th Century a single trip could take six to seven years. From 1631 through 1668 Tavernier made six journey's to Persia and India, culminating in the voyage and adventure that brought the great blue diamond to the court of Louis XIV.

The author
Richard W. Wise ventured through the "Voyages of Tavernier" - three volumes with dates and details of the journeys but not much about the man. The French Blue is his effort to fill in the gaps between the journeys, he has, with this book fleshed out Jean Baptiste - the man. The 17th Century engravings and Tavernier's own drawings of the gems he saw and traded remind us that, while this is a work of fiction, it is based in fact.

I was first introduced to Richard W. Wise when I picked up his book
Secrets of the Gem Trade The Connoisseur's Guide to Precious Gemstones. As a Gemology student I was looking for information, specifics that would make me a smarter purchaser and aid me in my studies. What I found was a book of intriguing stories of gem trading, miners, and exotic locales. The art of the story teller is legend and doesn't come easily. Wise has taken his success with Secrets of the Gem Trade one step further and in this adventure story his imagination was released to travel the road and sail the seas with Jean Baptiste Tavernier. Well done!

Product Description on Amazon
Between the years 1630-1668, the French gem merchant, Jean Baptiste Tavernier made six voyages to Persia and India. His true exploits by land and sea go far beyond the ink and paper exploits of fictional adventurers. Tavernier met and did business with some of the world's most powerful princes and romanced some of the most beautiful women. Sometime during his later voyages, Tavernier acquired a magnificent 116 carat blue diamond. Upon his return to France, he sold the diamond to Louis XIV, for the equivalent of 147 kilos of pure gold. The Sun King made him Baron of Aubonne. The remains of Tavernier s blue gem is known today as the Hope Diamond, but for the first 200 years of its history it was called simply The French Blue.

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