web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Sections » Books »

Title: Diamond Stories, Enduring Change On 47th Street

Share Button

Title: Diamond Stories, Enduring Change On 47th Street
Author: Renée Rose Shield
Publisher: Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.

 

    “There were these two diamond dealers negotiating over a diamond. One was offering nearly $100,000 for a five-carat stone. They were not far apart but became very stubborn – their commissions depended upon it. They were arguing incessantly and loudly. A schnorrer going on his rounds overheard them and told them he would settle the difference – ‘I’ll give you the $100,000.’ One said: ‘Seems to me you’ve got a lot of chutzpah – here you’re begging all day, and you’ve got all this money.’ The schnorrer replied: ‘For me, diamonds are just a side business.’”

 

      This and similar lore is contained in this anthropological study of life on New York’s 47th Street, including a behind-the-scenes look at the Diamond Dealers Club, the DeBeers monopoly, even the almost-secret arbitration system that helps keep most of the workings of the “diamond society” so secret.

 

      Born to a family of diamond dealers and traders, Shields finagled her way onto the street to explore the enigmatic society where commercialism meets Judaism in what is essentially a closed community built on generations of trust.

 

      There are many sources where we can read about the mechanics of gemstones, including “The four c’s” (cut, color, clarity, carat weight), cleaving, polishing, grading, etc.; but this socio-anthropological study is one of the first to bring us right into the milieu of a closed society. It’s almost like Margaret Mead writing about the Trobriand islanders.

 

      After being introduced to the officials of the exchange by her uncles Moishe and Shmiel, who were members and dealers, Shields hung about, questioned participants and recorded incidents from daily trading. Of course Diamond Stories fills us in of the vitals of diamond exploration, production and distribution on the world market, including the efforts of DeBeers and others to maintain the image (and the price) of diamonds as a rare commodity of high value – even if they’re really not.

 

      Although they are competing over a commodity that these few, mostly Orthodox Jews have been supplying to the world for ages, the members of this very insular community live together, pray together, eat together and even celebrate their simchas together. It has become a world-wide community involving trading over the several bourses (diamond exchanges) where literally millions of dollars in precious stones are traded on no more than a hand-shake. Even the non-Jews who participate have learned to exclaim “mazel and bracha” to seal a bargain.

 

      Shields pays particular attention to the fact that while women were rarely involved in the industry barely a generation earlier, their presence has increased, and she describes the effect this has on the market place. Until the 80′s there wasn’t even a ladies restroom in The Club.

 
      If you are considering a career in the diamond industry and want to know what goes on behind-closed-doors” Diamond Stories is a must-read. If you’re just curious or need to know why these beautiful little pieces of clear stone are so expensive, this is a very interesting illumination of the business and the mechanics of production and distribution.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Title: Diamond Stories, Enduring Change On 47th Street”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Aharon Ben Anshel
book-scattered-tribe

There are three kinds of travelers: there are tourists, there are businesspeople, and then there are historians like Ben G. Frank.

The last kind doesn’t simply go from here to there. They try to relive history and find the real meaning behind what they experience.

Behind “the news” there’s almost always a story that isn’t being reported, and certain kinds of phenomenon occur almost simultaneously all over the world in almost every era.

Whether this is a memoir or autobiography or whether this book was written as an article of regional diplomacy, King Abdullah does come across in this book as a quite sincere person making a valiant effort at regional diplomacy, who is trying to quell terrorism in the Mideast and raise the social and economic levels of his countrymen.

As any psychologist can tell you – no two people who see an event come away with the very same experience. Criminologists and detectives who question people who may have witnessed a crime experience the fact that several different people will report various versions of the event.

As any psychologist can tell you – no two people who see an event come away with the very same experience. Criminologists and detectives who question people who may have witnessed a crime experience the fact that several different people will report various versions of the event.

I’ve always been amazed at how historians pore over some old documents and books in some dusty basement storehouses, and yet are able to come up with a volume that’s readable and enlightening – and even entertaining. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t, but this is surely an exception.

When we first received Rabbi Weinstein’s new tome, following the great success of his first book, Up, Up and Oy Vey, we expected a collection of guf-faws and chortles.

I was once a member of a congregation during a time that the New York Times was affected by a strike.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-diamond-stories-enduring-change-on-47th-street/2006/06/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: