David Ellis, Legendary Jewelry Salesman, Dies at 85

IndependentsJan 10, 2023

David Ellis, Legendary Jewelry Salesman, Dies at 85

He was remembered as a sharply dressed, quintessential southern gentleman with a talent for sales.

20230110_David Ellis.jpg
David Hollingsworth Ellis, a well-known jewelry salesman, died Dec. 28 following an illness.
Boone, N.C.—David Hollingsworth Ellis, a well-known jewelry industry salesman, died Dec. 28 following an illness.
He was 85.
Ellis was born on April 16, 1937 in Fayetteville, North Carolina to William Louis Ellis, Jr. and Elizabeth Ledbetter Ellis.
He was known as a “quintessential southern gentleman” with a “suave sophisticated demeanor,” as per his online obituary, but he treated everyone like family.
Ellis was a committed salesman, working for a variety of companies over his sixty-year career, including Citizen Watch and Frederick Goldman. 
His warmth, honesty, and kindness contributed to his success.
Debbie Kordansky, owner of DM Kordansky in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, first met Ellis at a trade show and they remained friends over the years.
She remembered him as a man of integrity and recalled his distinct uniform, which was a suit and tie with French cuffs.
“Some people would consider that archaic, but for him, it was a way to show respect for his position in the industry and show respect to the stores he entered, as well as commanding respect for him.”
His jewelry industry career was inspired by his older cousin, William E. Thunbergs, who was raised by Ellis’ mother and was like a brother to him. Thunbergs would go on to be a vice president at store Jewel Box in Virginia.
Ellis’ six-decade-long career in the jewelry industry began in his hometown of Fayetteville. He got his start as a teenager, sweeping floors and wrapping gifts at a local jewelry store.
He married his wife, Dawn Amber, in 1974. They would go on to work together in the jewelry industry for nearly 40 years while raising three children.
Ellis began selling watch bands, and later worked for Seiko Time and Longines.
Ellis also worked for Citizen Watch, helping to introduce the brand to the U.S. He was one of the first Americans in the Japanese company’s office, said Dawn.
He also worked with Frederick Goldman, overseeing the southeast region, and moving his family back to his home state of North Carolina.
It was a long career, said Dawn, but he made a lot of friends along the way.
“Everybody and their brother knows David Ellis. I can assure you of that,” she said.
In the late 1990s, the couple owned jewelry distributor D and D. They later opened retail store Jewel Trends in downtown Jefferson, North Carolina, specializing in custom pieces.
The pair was a dream team.
Ellis was the charming salesman tending to the customers while Dawn took care of the “ugly things,” like bookkeeping and collecting money. She had a background in sales and government, working for the North Carolina General Assembly with the House of Representatives.
“He was very charismatic,” she said of her husband. “He was honest, dependable, loyal, all of those wonderful things.”
Ellis prided himself on putting his customers first.
“His word was his bond. Every client will tell you that he was customer-driven. He lived for his customers. They were his life. And they all know it,” she said.
“You could call him day or night with whatever problem you had and he would solve it. He did it because he loved [his customers]. He loved the industry.”
They shut the boutique in 2016 after realizing they could make more money on the road than in traditional retail. 
Ellis, who never officially retired, and his wife traveled together on the road for the last 10 years.
That time in their lives, she said, was wonderful.
“We had a very unique relationship. He was my best friend. He was the love of my life. The reason our marriage worked is he would tell everyone that he loved me more than I loved him,” said Dawn.
“We were lucky enough to be in the glory days when salesmen helped other salesmen and jewelers helped other jewelers. We were a huge, wonderful family and, luckily, David was one of them that sat at the head of the table.”
He is survived by Dawn; his son, Michael Ellis and his fiancé Lisa Gunter; his daughter Audrey Elizabeth Ellis Pyon and her husband Sammy Pyon; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and his sister Eunice Louise Hodge. He was preceded in death by his son, David Hollingsworth Ellis, Jr.
There will not be a service but he was laid to rest at a family plot in Fayetteville. 
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

The Latest

Model Wearing Eat Cake Collection
CollectionsApr 16, 2024
Akaila Reid Launches ‘Eat Cake’ Collection

It’s ultra-feminine and filled with gold, pearls, and soft pastels.

Emily Highet Morgan, Emily Bennett
MajorsApr 16, 2024
Loudr Adds 2 Directors

Emily Highet Morgan and Emily Bennett have joined the agency’s team.

Stuller catalogs
MajorsApr 16, 2024
Stuller Releases First Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry Catalog

Its updated book for mountings is also now available.

Brought to you by
The Blueprint for Success in Scalable, Personalized Jewelry Retail

With Ho Brothers, you can unlock your brand's true potential and offer customers the personalized jewelry experiences they desire.

Headshot of Karen Rentmeesters
SourcingApr 16, 2024
Karen Rentmeesters Takes Over as Interim CEO of AWDC

She has been with the organization since 2010, most recently serving as its chief officer of PR and industry relations.

Weekly QuizApr 11, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this seven-question quiz.
Take the Quiz
Joyce’s Jewelry
TechnologyApr 15, 2024
Judge Rules Jeweler’s Lawsuit Against PNC Bank Can Move Forward

Joyce’s Jewelry sued the bank after cybercriminals drained its accounts of nearly $1.6 million through a series of wire transfers.

Madeleine K. Albright
AuctionsApr 15, 2024
Madeleine K. Albright Jewelry, Pins Coming to Auction

Hosted by Freeman’s | Hindman, the sale will take place May 7-8.

Jewelers of America Fly In Washington, D.C.
Brought to you by
How Jewelers of America Represents Your Business

For over 30 years, JA has advocated for the industry, fought against harmful legislation and backed measures that help jewelry businesses.

Audemars Piguet circa 1985 emerald car watch
AuctionsApr 15, 2024
All of Sotheby’s ‘Rough Diamonds’ Sold in Less Than an Hour

The auction house said all 24 timepieces offered in its underground sale of rare and avant-garde watches quickly found buyers.

AGS Conclave 2024 logo Austin
Events & AwardsApr 15, 2024
10 Can’t-Miss Sessions at AGS Conclave 2024

From lab-grown diamonds and AI to the inevitable Taylor Swift mention, here are some of Conclave’s most intriguing educational offerings.

My Next Question webinar
Recorded WebinarsApr 12, 2024
Watch: What Jewelers Need to Know About Insurance

From cybersecurity liability to trade show coverage, insurance experts share tips on how to build the right policy.

Evil Eye Charm with Turquoise Disc
CollectionsApr 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Lionheart’s Evil Eye Gemstone Charm

The charm is a modern rendition of the evil eye amulet that has been worn for thousands of years.

The Jewelry Symposium scholarship winners 2024
Events & AwardsApr 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Announces 4 Scholarship Winners

Ahead of its trade show next month, TJS awarded free registration and accommodations to one jewelry professional and three students.

SRK Empire and SRK House
Policies & IssuesApr 11, 2024
SRK Exports’ Journey Toward Net Zero Impact

By the end of this year, SRK’s diamond manufacturing complexes will achieve net zero emissions, one of an impressive array of achievements.

AGTA logo
Lab-GrownApr 11, 2024
AGTA Bans Lab-Grown Diamonds, Gemstones at GemFair

Members can still sell lab-grown stones, it said, but only natural gems are allowed on the show floor.

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsApr 11, 2024
Macy’s Opens Books for Possible Buyout

The retailer also appointed two new board members, avoiding a proxy fight from a potential buyer.

Sylvie Jewelry model
CollectionsApr 10, 2024
Sylvie Launches New Nature-Inspired Collection, ‘Tulira’

The bridal collection consists of 35 engagement rings and seven wedding bands.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea in 18-karat yellow gold
WatchesApr 10, 2024
These Are Rolex’s New Watches for 2024

The crown introduced a dozen timepieces in Geneva, including a heavy metal version of its deep-sea divers’ watch.

Levy’s Fine Jewelry diamond education
IndependentsApr 10, 2024
Levy's Fine Jewelry Explores Diamond History

The family-owned jeweler has a new education section on its website dedicated to the history of diamond cutting.

With Clarity NFL wedding bands
CollectionsApr 10, 2024
With Clarity Partners With NFL on Wedding Bands

The limited-edition men’s rings can be customized with one of 12 team logos.

Asian Star’s diamond manufacturing facility in India
SourcingApr 10, 2024
Compliance, Caution, and Concern: The Current Outlook of Indian Diamantaires

There is a willingness to comply with new government-mandated regulations, with an insistence that they should be practical and realistic.

Chrono24 watch inspection lab
WatchesApr 09, 2024
Chrono24 Debuts Pre-Owned Watch Authentication Program

The program, now live in Europe, will roll out to the U.S. this summer.

6.21-carat fancy vivid pink diamond
AuctionsApr 09, 2024
Phillips to Offer 6.21-Carat Vivid Pink Diamond

Colored gemstones and signed jewels are the focus of its upcoming Geneva sale.

Lucapa rough colorless and pink diamonds
SourcingApr 09, 2024
Former De Beers Exec Appointed to Lucapa Board

Stuart Brown, who was De Beers’ CFO and interim CEO, is now Lucapa’s independent non-executive chairman.

Jewelers for Children POS System Donations
MajorsApr 09, 2024
Jewel360 Announces New POS Integration, JFC Partnership

The point-of-sale software can now prompt customers to round up their credit card purchases as a donation to Jewelers for Children.

Bharat Ratnam, a Mega Common Facilitation Centre (CFC)
SourcingApr 09, 2024
Reinvigorating SEEPZ, the Epicenter of India’s Studded Jewelry Exports

The zone’s modernization will enhance and increase India’s jewelry manufacturing capabilities while aiding small and mid-sized businesses.

Charles & Colvard moissanite bypass engagement ring
SourcingApr 08, 2024
Charles & Colvard Debuts B2B Portal for Moissanite

Select independent jewelers and retailers can now purchase moissanite through Charles & Colvard Direct.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy