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

Scribner  2011

 

Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family and a Way of Life takes the reader on an intriguing journey into the hidden world of the diamond industry. The author, Alice Oltuski, the daughter and granddaughter of Forty-Seventh Street diamond dealers in New York City, provides a riveting social history of the diamond industry and the interwoven nature of the industry and the Jewish people. For example, when diamond dealers finalize the sale of a stone they say “Mazal” which is short for “Mazal and brucha,” luck and blessing. This one word conclusion of a deal signifies that “the stone has transferred possession, no matter who is physically holding the gem….” It is a closing used by Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish dealers all over the world.

I loved the book. I think readers will be enthralled by this insider view of the workings of the Forty-Seventh Street Diamond Exchange and Oltuski’s gripping accounts of the lives of her family and the people who work in the industry. The author’s detailed endnotes provide even more fascinating specifics about this secretive world. Endnotes, index.

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