Message From The Author

Author's Message

Fake Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

I know I’m odd, but I’m not particularly fond of diamonds. I’ve always preferred colored stones — star sapphires, fire opals, rubies, lapis lazuli. Maybe it’s from growing up in Thailand, with all its many exotic gems, or maybe it’s just because I gravitate to bright colors, but diamonds are blah for me. Since I’m not a huge fan, there’s no way I would spend a ton of money on real diamonds. For myself, I’d only ever buy fakes.

Obviously, I’m not alone or there wouldn’t be a roaring business in cubic zirconias and other diamond simulants. But the practice of faking such riches goes back further than most people realize, at least to as far as when Georg Friedrich Strass invented rhinestones in the mid-eighteenth century. Strass made a fortune providing fake diamonds to people who couldn’t afford real ones. He sold them legitimately as fakes, but in my research I found an actual case of a criminal who sold fakes but called them real (and charged real diamond prices for them, too).

Originally, I’d intended the heroine of my book, a Dutch jeweler named Isabella Cale, to be involved unwittingly in a heist of real jewelry, but once I started delving into the world of diamonds, I couldn’t resist having her be an expert at creating fakes. I like fakes; she creates fakes. How could I resist that delicious synchronicity?

In the process of uncovering her bliss, I found out more than I ever wanted to know about fake gems. Were you aware that jewelers refer to “paste” gems because the glass stones literally begin as a paste of various minerals? I wasn’t. Apparently, after making molds of real cut gems, the jeweler creates his special sort of paste, fires it in a crucible to make the glass, puts chunks of the glass loosely into the mold and melts it and then pries out the glass “gem” once it’s cool. Who knew?

Nor did I know how important chemistry was to the creation of fake gems. Or that people sold all sorts of fake gems from the Georgian period on. I even have pics on my Pinterest page of Regency jewelry that consisted of fake gems set in real gold. Fascinating stuff!

Of course, now that I know all of this I’m on the hunt for some Regency “diamonds,” if only to see what they look like. These days, they’re probably more expensive than real diamonds, judging from the price of antique jewelry. Isabella would find that very amusing, I’m sure!

-Sabrina Jeffries

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