Precious Objects by Alicia Oltuski
A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Alicia Oltuski

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Alicia Oltuski received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in writing from Columbia University, where she was awarded a David Berg Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared on NPR’s Berlin Stories, in The Faster Times, The Bulletin in Philadelphia, and other publications. She has taught at the University of the Arts and lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband.
 
Published July 19, 2011 by Scribner. 370 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, History, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Her father, an experienced dealer in precious stones, is based in New York’s diamond district on 47th St. There, in little booths, dusty factories, locked offices, appraisal labs and on the busy street, fabulous deals are made with one Hebrew word and a handshake.

Apr 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Precious Objects: A Story of ...

Publishers Weekly

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Oltuski, daughter of a diamond dealer, brings clarity in this study of the industry, with a special emphasis on New York's diamond district, the small neighborhood that handles 90% of the diamonds entering the U.S., its ties to the Hasidim and their unique bargaining vocabulary.

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Precious Objects: A Story of ...

The Wall Street Journal

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Roger Lowenstein reviews "Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a
Way of Life."

| Read Full Review of Precious Objects: A Story of ...

The Wall Street Journal

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She talks, and listens, to everyone: diamond dealers, diamond cutters, detectives who probe diamond thefts.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Precious Objects: A Story of ...

The Washington Post

If it’s all right to haggle with God, you can haggle with anyone.” In the diamond business, “everything works on credit, loan, and trust,” and overall the system functions smoothly, but from time to time someone welshes on a deal and more generally, “while the diamond people abided by a r...

Jul 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Precious Objects: A Story of ...

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