Jewels - A Secret History by Victoria Finlay Sceptre, HK$144 Originally published last year as Buried Treasure - Travels Through the Jewel Box, Victoria Finlay's Jewels contains nine stories, one for each creation of nature deemed at various times in history to have been precious. Ranked from soft to hard, there's 40 million-year-old amber, 'mourning stone' jet, pearl, opal, peridot, emerald, sapphire, ruby and diamond. Jewels explains the origins of each gemstone's status and takes the reader on a tour to meet those who make their living from them. Finlay proved in her first book, Colour - Travels Through the Paintbox, to be a fine storyteller, an attentive interviewer with an ear for a juicy quote and a thoughtful writer. Here, the pages glitter with anecdote and observation. The Daily Telegraph concluded: 'Finlay's real quest is for the nature of our fascination with these gaudy objects.' Indeed. Far from being seduced, she tells of polluted oyster beds in Japan that serve as a memorial to pearl cultivation giant Mikimoto; blood diamonds from Africa; and advances in technology that can produce undetectable fakes in the blink of an eye rather than the millions of years nature takes to create them.