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Precious objects : a story of diamonds, family, and a way of life
Alicia Oltuski
Adult Nonfiction HD9677.U52 O48 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The diamond trade has long been as shrouded in mystery as the precious gem itself. Oltuski, daughter of a diamond dealer, brings clarity in this study of the industry, with a special emphasis on New York's diamond district, the small neighborhood that handles 90% of the diamonds entering the U.S., its ties to the Hasidim and their unique bargaining vocabulary. Hers is a workmanlike account of the various aspects of the trade-its South African origins, the intricacies of mining and grading, and the growing online commerce in stones-sparked by her own desire to better understand her father's business. Oltuski diligently covers the darker side of diamonds-how the brutal conflicts in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Angola were financed by and fought over the gemstone-leavening it with precisely observed accounts of the delicate, almost balletic haggling among the New York dealers. Oltuski makes a commendable effort at literary journalism, with revealing observations on the centuries-old link between Jews and the diamond industry, and sparkling accounts of her familial ties to the business. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In this combination history, investigative report, and memoir, journalist Oltuski illuminates the secretive diamond industry from within. As the daughter of a Manhattan diamond dealer, Oltuski has access to the tightly knit community that handles most of the diamonds coming through the United States. She weaves together a broader history of the industry, such as the founding of the De Beers diamond company in South Africa and the more recent controversy over African "blood diamonds," with personal stories of her family's beginnings in the gem trade and her grandfather and father's work in Manhattan's 47th Street diamond district. She highlights the unexpected juxtaposition among the traditional, religious world of New York's predominantly Jewish diamond dealers and the memorable characters, oddities of pricing and deal making, and threats of danger that are all endemic to the international diamond business. Only someone with Oltuski's insider's vantage point could provide such a comprehensive and colorful look at the many facets of a trade that has a broad public impact yet is largely hidden from view. VERDICT A distinctive and personal work that will captivate readers curious about the secret life of jewels.-Elizabeth L. Winter, Georgia Inst. of Tech. Lib., Atlanta (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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