Diamond-Dave Interview Jeweller To The Stars

How does that saying go?
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
For Country Music Stars, Diamond-Dave is their best friend.
You see Diamond-Dave is the “Jeweller To The Stars”.
He custom makes jewellery pieces for stars like Hank Williams Jr. and Montgomery Gentry.
What’s behind his reputation as “Jeweller To The Stars”?
That’s what we set out to discover.

Q – Dave, as I understand it, you were customizing cars before you were customizing jewellery. How is it that one led to another?
A – Its still using your hands. I’m also a licensed plumber, a licensed HVAC guy and all of this is using a little bit upstairs and a whole lot of your hands.

Q – Not just a little bit upstairs—–but a whole lot! Right?
A – (Laughs) Yes. My passion has always been the whole jewellery thing. It wasn’t until I was invited to a surprise birthday party for a gentleman named Merle Kilgore who was a famous songwriter and artist in his own right and was also Hank Williams Jr’s manager. He co-wrote the song ‘Ring Of Fire’, and ‘Wolverton Mountain’ and several big hits. I made a k and a ring of fire around the k and put a head on the k. He come up to me and said, ‘Brother, can you make one of these for my wife’? Or, he said, ‘Can you have the gentleman make one for my wife’? I said, ‘Yes’. He said, ‘Brother I will make you the Jeweller To The Stars’. So, the next time he called he said, ‘Is the piece for my wife finished yet’? I said, yes. He said, you’re the man, Diamond Dave. And that’s where the name came from and it’s been stuck on me ever since.

Q – So, Merle Kilgore referred anyone who was looking to get a customized jewellery piece to you, correct?
A – Correct.

Q – So, anybody in Nashville who is looking for such jewellery – you’re the man?
A – I’m the man.

Q – And you don’t have any competition do you?
A – No. I’m doing stuff from custom belt buckles for Hank Jr. to Monday Night Football belt buckles for Cowboy Troy to custom made belt buckles for Chevrolet Pendants. Wedding bands. Engagement rings. We do it all.

Q – Do you advertise or is it strictly word of mouth?
A – Word of mouth. One person tells another person. John Rich, in 2004 Merle Kilgore passed away, and John Rich from the group Big And Rich took over where he left off. I started making the Muzik Mafia rings. Next thing you know John Rich is telling everybody what kind of guy I am, how I take care of my customers, how I make house calls and he took over where Merle left off.

Q – Do you cater to mostly Country stars?
A – I cater to anyone from John Rich to Little John to Kid Rock, Pamela Anderson, Orange County Choppers. So, I do a wide range. It’s not necessarily Country artists. From baseball players to football players, a wide range.

Q –I’m guessing you don’t have people coming to see you who are walking in off the street?
A – Well, that’s correct. But, I do have a 3,000 square foot jewellery store that we keep stocked with our own line of jewellery that I’m gonna say the average middle income person could walk in and buy. When you get in to celebrity jewellery they know what they want. They want it big and shiny and they don’t want the person next to them at the Country Music Awards wearing the same thing.

Q – Your father was into customizing cars wasn’t he?
A – Correct.

Q – And you probably thought you would do that as well.
A – Correct.

Q – And you did.
A – Correct. And when I was going to high school I worked for a watch maker/jeweller. He gave me all the grunt work. So, I had to do all the polishing and everything after school. When he passed away he left me some tools and I put ‘em in storage so I could go out and have boats, bikes, blondes, in my 20’s. I picked it back up in my early 30’s and now I’m 46 years old and I have a full-blown operation. So, with that being said, I learned at an early age what I really wanted to do, but, it didn’t pay the bills. I was just doing it for friends and family. So, I had to be diversified and go out and customize cars and get my plumbing license and get my HVAC license to feed my family. It wasn’t until I got introduced to Merle Kilgore that my passion for jewellery took off.

Q – How did you get that initial invitation to the birthday party where Merle Kilgore was? Did you have a mutual friend?
A – Yes. My mutual friend is the son of the Big Bopper. The Big Bopper got killed with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. I was actually trying to help him get into the music business and Merle was helping him with a booking agent and that’s how I met Merle. Then, we got invited to a birthday party and never dreamed that my hobby was getting ready to blow up in my face and become a big part of my life. I absolutely love going to the store and designing jewellery.

Q – How many people can say that?
A – Oh, I get excited talking about it. I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and go and sketch out a ring. The next morning I get up and look at it and say wow! But, if you put me under pressure and say Dave, sketch me out something in 10 minutes—–I’m scratching my head. If you give me a day or two to ponder the idea – that’s where my best work comes from.

Q – Have you ever entertained the idea of having a chain of Diamond-Dave Jewellery Stores?
A – Well, having a chain of stores is not my goal. My goal is…..I have the best job in the world because they’re either crying with jewellery or they’re smiling from ear to ear when they get the piece. I don’t know what other jobs that are out there that allows you to have that involvement in a joyous occasion all the time. So, with that being said I want to be the man that makes the custom pieces, the one of a kind stuff. I don’t want to be the man who has the headaches and the payroll and the in-house accounting and all that to own multiple stores. I want to be the man who designs a line of jewellery for your store.

Q – How many hours a week do you work?
A – With traveling and being in the store, my work schedule is 72 plus hours a week.

Q – I’ve noticed the people who are successful are passionate about what they do in life.
A – Correct. Yes. The people that you meet, yes, they are celebrities. And yes, they get on stage in front of thousands of people, but, I can’t honestly say that the folks I do work for and there’s a list of folks I do work for, are all down-to-earth, blue jeans, cowboy boot, just humble people. They don’t get any better.

© Gary James All Rights Reserved

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