David S. Kwiat, a prime force behind the jewelry house Kwiat and the son of the company’s founder Sam Kwiat, died on Monday at the age of 94. David was an icon in the diamond industry and will be long remembered for his sharp mind, his love of diamonds and his reputation for integrity.
In 1933 at the age of 17, David joined his father Sam in business. David was a savvy businessman and a true craftsman, and he recognized the need in the marketplace for beautiful engagement rings and wedding bands. He began to design and create diamond rings for his clientele, and despite the difficult economic conditions of the Great Depression era, the business grew throughout the decade. He quickly became known for having one of the largest inventories of diamond jewelry, and retail stores from across the United States began to call on him when they had an important client. In the early 1950s, he published his first catalog showcasing a selection of important jewels – one of the first in the industry. He had an expert understanding of rough diamonds, and during the course of his professional career oversaw the cutting of many important diamonds up to as large as 100 carats. His clients included many of the world’s preeminent diamantaires and retail jewelers, including Harry Winston, as well as many in New York ’s high society. In the 1970s, he was joined in business by his two sons, Sheldon and Lowell, who worked alongside him for more than 30 years. And now his grandchildren – the fourth generation of Kwiat family members – work alongside their fathers in the business. David continued to remain engaged in the business up until his last days, always contributing ideas and suggestions on new designs and manufacturing. But of all of the accomplishments in his long and distinguished professional career, none made him more proud than seeing his family continue to build upon the legacy that he and his father created.
Most importantly, David was extraordinarily dedicated to his wife, children and his entire family. He received great joy from spending time with everyone on holidays and vacations. At family gatherings, he often would sit with his wife overlooking the large family and would say “Shirley, look at all that we’ve created.” His love, kindness and integrity will continue to set an example for his children and grandchildren. He is survived by his wife Shirley, his three children Sheldon, Lowell and Carol, seven grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
In the diamond business, the parties signal their agreement by concluding a deal with the word “mazal”. If you had told David years ago that he would live to be 94 years of age, engaged in the business until his last days, surrounded by his whole family, there is no question that he would have said “mazal” to that. And it would have been the best deal he ever made.
Memorial donations can be made to Jewelers for Children by visiting the website www.jewelersforchildren.org.