That’s all it took for Colorado jewelers to meet, fall in love, launch a store, buy a house & tie the knot
David and Kim Purdy went to college thousands of miles apart to become accountants, but it was a jewelry apprenticeship, on-the-job training and annual educational endeavors that brought them together and made them successful in their more creative career of choice.
The couple, owners of D & K Jewelers in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge, first crossed paths 18 years ago.
“We met in July 1999 in a jewelry store,” Kim says. “We fell in love, bought an existing store in April 2000, bought a house in May 2000, and in July 2000 we got married. No moss grew underneath our feet that year! We started with 50 pieces of jewelry and 50 watches. Now we have an 1,800-square-foot store full of inventory.”
David, who graduated from the College of Santa Fe with a degree in accounting, apprenticed in Colorado Springs with his college roommate’s father, an “Old World German Jeweler” named Edward Hirt. “David had chickens at the time and brought this jeweler a dozen eggs every week to pay for the apprenticeship,” Kim laughs. “You can’t do that anymore - people would laugh!”
Working in the business since 1977, David had his own trade shop and casting shop when he met Kim, who had migrated from Maine just two months before. She was working for Tomkin Jewelers in Arvada, 5 miles from their current store.
“David would come to the store to pick up repairs and take them back to his shop,” Kim says. “When we met, he said, ‘Do you want to open a jewelry store with me?’ I said, ‘Sure, I need a job!’ And the rest is history.”
Fountains of Information
Kim has a degree in business management and another in accounting and marketing research from Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. The degrees do help - she does the books for D & K.
“But I learned so much from the jeweler I worked with at Tomkin Jewelers,” she says. “I did a lot of different jobs in the store. I went there with no jewelry experience whatsoever, no knowledge really, and the jeweler (Gary Thompson) taught me tons. He was a great fountain of information and taught me as much as I could take in during the eight months I worked for him.”
Kim learned from her husband, as well. “David has way more knowledge than I ever did. He has taught me a lot. I’ve taken some local classes and gone to Stuller for continuing education. In our shop we hand fabricate and now computer fabricate with the help of Matrix. I’ve taken beginning and intermediate classes for this craft. I’m also an Internet research hound. When a customer asks me something I will dig until I find the answers. This also helps when I am looking for the best deal I can find for my customer.
“It’s amazing what your diamond dealer will teach you, or your colored-stone dealer, or your pearl dealer. I’ve had them all in my shop just to give me information, to learn.”
Full Service & More
D & K Jewelers is a full-service store, with 40 percent of its business involving custom work. “We make it, repair it, sell it,” Kim says. “We do everything in house. We replace stones, fix mountings, do sizings, watch batteries, etc. We don’t have a laser welder, but we do have a PUK welder, the welder that came out between the torch and the laser welder.
“We have our own 3D printer, which is a cool toy. We also have casting equipment in-house. When we were at Stuller Bridge in 2015, they gave us a deal on a Project 1200, which was compatible with Matrix, the program I have. When I have problems, I have a direct line and they call me back right away. They are a great resource.
“I can’t say enough about Stuller’s support - they’ve been really good to us. We’re going down to their bench jewelers’ class in March. I’m taking classes in diamond grading and gem identification – it has a little of everything. I firmly believe you need to take educational classes every year. David will be taking a class on hints and tricks for using a welder, as well as a couple of casting classes.”
D & K offers a few items beyond jewelry - baby gifts, wedding accessories, and a beautiful collection of keepsake roses. They’re made from the real flower, coated in lacquer and trimmed in 24-karat gold.
“When Valentine’s Day comes around, I’m not one for buying flowers because they die,” Kim says. “I’d rather have a tree that I can plant in my yard. These roses, they don’t die. It’s a gift you can give someone and they’ll always have it. Like jewelry lasts forever, I wanted something that’s like a memory, that lasts forever. Quality Gold carries a nice variety of them. I can find almost any color that anyone wants.”
Years down the road, the future of D & K Jewelers may lie in the hands of Kim’s nephew in Florida. “He came up to see us for Thanksgiving and approached us about wanting to apprentice under David,” Kim says. “We’re waiting to see . . . it would be awesome, because the store would live on when David is ready to retire, if ever! I don’t think David will ever retire. I think he’ll cut back but never retire.”