A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life
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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Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1 Our Brightest Blazes
My father handed me the chest pack. It was a tan pouch the size of a small outstretched hand. I took off my jacket and slipped the pack over my tank top, on my right shoulder, where the pack rested between my breast and armpit. I slid on my jacket and zipped up. My father checked me for bulges.
Inside the pack, I had carefully placed the gold bracelet, a thick Victorian piece decorated with flowers, whose petals were made of sapphires and whose centers, of diamonds. A few of the diamonds were missing. I was to pick up the replacements at a jewelry exchange down the street and carry... see more
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