Diamond Stories: Enduring Change on 47th Street

Diamond Stories: Enduring Change on 47th Street

by Renée Rose Shield


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Sequestered within the heart of a cosmopolitan city is an exotic world—a place where diamonds, astronomically priced, are bought and sold on the strength of a handshake, and business disputes are resolved according to ancient Jewish principles of arbitration. Yet it is also a modern industry facing the same fundamental global changes affecting all businesses today.

In Diamond Stories, Renée Rose Shield leads us into the unexamined realm of wholesale diamond traders in New York. Related to several well-respected traders, she had unprecedented access to a society normally closed to outside inquiry. Here she deftly blends her personal relationship and her anthropological training to provide an insightful exploration of this tradition-bound industry, the new challenges it faces, and the ways both industry and individuals adapt to and endure change.

Shield begins with a fascinating history of diamond mining, combining the story of the De Beers cartel, the role of Jews in the trade, and the part diamonds have played both in war and liberation. Throughout, she incorporates commentary by current diamond traders. Succeeding chapters explore the evolving nature of both the global trade and the New York diamond district. Shield takes a close look at the increasingly complex ethnic makeup of the district, illuminates the rarely documented work done by women, chronicles the resilient system of arbitration, and reveals the ways in which many traders work well into their eighties and nineties. Their long lives of work, cushioned by the trade's social environment, offer hints for successful aging in general.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801472633
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 11/28/2005
Series: The Anthropology of Contemporary Issues
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Renée Rose Shield is Clinical Associate Professor of Community Health at Brown University. She is the author of Uneasy Endings: Daily Life in an American Nursing Home, also from Cornell, and coauthor of Aging in Today's World: Conversations between an Anthropologist and a Physician.

What People are Saying About This

Rob Bates

"When I first heard someone was doing an anthropological study on the diamond industry, I thought, 'Great idea!' Now that I've read it, I can add, 'Great book!' The diamond world is a business unlike any other, with its own cultures, rules and traditions Renee Shield is a lively, insightful guide to this mysterious and fascinating world."

Jenna Weissman Joselit

"True to its subject, the complex world of the contemporary diamond merchant, this book offers a multi-faceted, well written, and sensitively rendered account of why this precious gemstone has taken hold of both our imagination and our pocketbooks."

Helen Fremont

"Renee Rose Shield explores the fascinating world of diamond traders in a lively and engaging narrative, weaving together economics, geology, business, sociology, and culture."

Eli Izhakoff

"Renee Rose Shield gives us an inside look at the diamond industry. Her stories sparkle with warmth, humor, and insight."

Joel S. Savishinsky

"This is a jewel of a book whose facets include commerce, gender, aging, and ethnicity. Simultaneously biblical, local, and global in her scope, Shield cuts to the heart of a community-an unusual place of trade and tradition-with great eloquence and insight."

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