A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life
By Alicia Oltuski
(Scribner, Paperback, 9781416545132, 384pp.)
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
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. 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. With insight and drama, Alicia 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.
Now in paperback, 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.
Alicia Oltuski received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in writing from Columbia University, where she was awarded the David Berg Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared on NPR’s Berlin Stories, in The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Penn Review, Peregrine, and other publications. She has taught at the University of the Arts and lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband.
“In the end, Ms Oltuski’s book is an honest look at the diamond trade. And in telling this story, it is obvious the real precious objects in the book are not the diamonds, but her family members and the other men and (few) women who inhabit New York’s diamond district.”
-Gems & Gemology
"[A] fascinating book...a multifaceted portrait of a New York city-within-a-city, bound by custom and religion and, for some, by obsession with the beauty of diamonds." --Maureen Corrigan, Penn Gazette
“Oltuski has paid fond, affecting and informative tribute to the world of her fathers.” –The Washington Post
“At once global and local, impersonal and intimate, the ins and outs of the diamond industry are grist for the writerly imagination. Oltuski is up to the challenge. The daughter and granddaughter of men in the business, she brings an insider’s perspective to the proceedings as well as a keen eye for the telling incident and quirky personal trait.” --The New Republic
“She writes most fascinatingly about the strange characters that clutter the streets.” –New York Post