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

  • Review
By – October 31, 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.

Twit­ter Book Club

Read a tran­script from the Twit­ter Book club for Pre­cious Objects

Read Ali­ci­a’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

Writ­ers are Readers

Randy Susan Mey­ers Dish­es about Tours, Writ­ing, and Murder


Car­ol Poll, Ph.D., is the retired Chair of the Social Sci­ences Depart­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. Her areas of inter­est include the soci­ol­o­gy of race and eth­nic rela­tions, the soci­ol­o­gy of mar­riage, fam­i­ly and gen­der roles and the soci­ol­o­gy of Jews.

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