Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life

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Simon and Schuster, Jul 19, 2011 - Social Science - 368 pages
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In the middle of New York City lies a neighborhood where all secrets are valuable, all assets are liquid, and all deals are sealed with a blessing rather than a contract. Welcome to the diamond district. Ninety percent of all diamonds that enter America pass through these few blocks, but the inner workings of this mysterious world are known only to the people who inhabit it.

In Precious Objects, twenty-six-year-old journalist Alicia Oltuski, the daughter and granddaughter of diamond dealers, seamlessly blends family narrative with literary reportage to reveal the fascinating secrets of the diamond industry and its madcap characters: an Elvis-impersonating dealer, a duo of diamond-detective brothers, and her own eccentric father.

With insight and drama, Oltuski limns her family’s diamond-paved move from communist Siberia to a displaced persons camp in post–World War II Germany to New York’s diamond district, exploring the connections among Jews and the industry, the gem and its lore, and the exotic citizens of this secluded world.

Entertaining and illuminating, Precious Objects offers an insider’s look at the history, business, and society behind one of the world’s most coveted natural resources, providing an unforgettable backstage pass to an extraordinary and timeless show.
 

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Contents

Our Brightest Blazes
1
Glitter Becomes a Currency
11
The Deal
28
Carbon
49
Hashems Diamonds
67
The List War
82
The Older World
98
A Dealers Life
114
The Shows
215
Vegas
231
The Diamond Growers
259
LifeGem
273
Safe Crumbs
285
I Want You to Take Care of Your Daughter and Other Auction House Follies
298
The New Dealers
319
Epilogue
337

The Diamond Women
132
The Last Diamond Cleaver
149
The Diamond Detectives
161
Blood in the Land of Diamonds
189
Notes
340
Selected Bibliography
349
Acknowledgments
356
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Alicia Oltuski is the author of Precious Objects. Her work has appeared on NPR's Berlin Stories, in W magazine, The Penn Review, Peregrine, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she received a David Berg Foundation Fellowship, and a BA and MA from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband.

 

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