Book Review: Precious Objects, Alicia Oltuski


Life in New York’s Diamond District is not as it appears, so says Alicia Oltuski, Author of Precious Objects, A Story of Diamonds, Family and a Way of Life

This powerful book takes the reader deep into the religion, rituals and business dealings of the diamond dealers of 47th Street, New York’s Diamond District. The book opens with the Alicia discussing her role as a gem runner for her dad, a person who is tasked with moving jewelry about on 47th Street via the use of underarm packs, heavy clothing and nearly invisible movement in the shadows of the non-descript buildings. Intimate conversations with diamond icons such as Martin Rapaport, who opened up the labaryth of secrets in the diamond community through his “pricing reports” in the 1970s, permeate the book. And generational diamond bidding traditions such as “the cachet,” a secret system involving a seller, broker, diamond dealer and simple manila envelope are fully disclosed.

In the background is the birth, history and power of De Beers. Viewed as god-like by the jewelers of 47th street, this diamond titan and its royal “site holders” control 40% of the worlds diamond inventory, and influence far more than that. Interspersed throughout is the emotion of diamonds, family and jewish tradition.


We rate Precious Objects ★★★★