The Lost Jewels

Written by Kirsty Manning
Review by K. M. Sandrick

Jewelry historian Kate Kirby is asked to research and report on Cheapside Jewels, a bundle of precious gems that were unearthed after being buried during London’s Great Fire. Kirby decides to explore the nagging mystery of why someone would hide a cache of jewels and never return to claim them. She also sets out on a journey to learn how and why individual pieces were made, to, as Kirby notes, listen for the jewels’ whispered secrets. The journey takes Kirby to diamond mines in India and jewelry markets in Sri Lanka. It also leads to her own family history and the source of the sapphires in the earrings she was given by her great-grandmother, Essie.

Author Manning expertly guides readers back and forth from present day to 1912 London with stops in 1630 Golconda, India, and 1666 London. Like a skilled lapidary, she shapes and polishes the narrative to gradually reveal character facets and the stories that gems carry over time—vignettes describing love, loss, sacrifice, and remembrance. Characteristics of the gems themselves are carefully etched to reveal surprises, answers to riddles, and moments of deep emotion. Plotline layers unfold, illuminating shades of dark and light. This is indeed a treasure.