Emerald City

The Birth and Evolution of an Indian Gemstone Industry

By Lawrence A. Babb

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Religion, Asian Studies
Paperback : 9781438445861, 232 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438445878, 232 pages, May 2013

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Note on Transliteration
1. Introduction
2. Dramatis Personae: Industrial Multiculturalism
3. The Rise of the Emerald Elite
4. Doing Business
5. Contexts
6. The Decline of the Emerald Elite
7. Conclusion

A fascinating study of the gemstone industry of Jaipur with special emphasis on its ownership class.


Lawrence A. Babb's Emerald City provides an intriguing portrait of the gemstone cutting industry of the North Indian city of Jaipur. It focuses on the ownership class consisting mainly of Jains and members of northern India's traditional trading communities. Based on oral-historical investigations of family firms, along with ethnographic observations and interviews, the book describes how the industry is organized, when and how it developed its characteristic features, and its evolving relationship with its social context. Babb pays special attention to the impact of culture on the business, with particular emphasis on the role of religion, specifically Jainism. He also offers a systematic comparison between Jaipur's gemstone business and New York City's famed diamond industry. In its application of ethnographic methodology to the study of an indigenous Indian industry, Emerald City delivers a unique perspective on business life in a non-Western setting.

Lawrence A. Babb is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Amherst College. He is the author of several books, including Alchemies of Violence: Myths of Identity and the Life of Trade in Western India and (with John E. Cort and Michael W. Meister) Desert Temples: Sacred Centers of Rajasthan in Historical, Art-Historical, and Social Context.


"...engaging … Gems have long been of enormous cultural and economic importance in South Asia and this book, based on a vanishing oral archive, will long stand as a seminal study of this trade." — Religious Studies Review