The relationship between the jeweller and the duchess is transactional. Each has something the other needs. The Duchess has a gambling addiction that leads her into debt: she needs money. The jeweller, who is from a humble background, is very rich but craves the prestige a Duchess and her set can bring.
The Duchess comes to the wealthy jeweller in search of 20,000 pounds. She has nothing left to sell in the way of valuable jewelry, so she brings ten worthless pearls. They are merely a proxy for what she really plans to sell—a weekend at her country estate, where the jeweller will be able to mix with the Duchess's daughters and the prime minister.
The story is told entirely from the point of view of the jeweller, so we are privy to his thoughts. We learn he has a gap or emptiness in his life stemming from his poor, obscure childhood that no amount of money can fill. He longs for acceptance from people like the Duchess, in the hopes it can wash away what he considers the stain of his...
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