Precious Objects

A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life

Precious Objects

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.
  • Scribner | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416545125 | 
  • July 2011

Video

A Legacy of Diamonds

Author Alicia Oltuski takes a look at the unique world of diamond dealing.

Read an Excerpt

About the Author

Alicia Oltuski
Joelle Phillips

Alicia Oltuski

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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