Our family business started right after World War II when my grandfather came home from Europe. He went to work as a watchmaker. He loved the challenge of taking watches apart and putting them back together, and pretty soon he was working faster than his boss. In 1950, my grandparents opened a very small store in the wing of an old theatre in Abilene, Texas. I was told it was about the size of a large bathroom. Over the next few years they built their business doing watch and jewelry repair and selling a few diamonds and engagement rings.
In 1952 they decided it was time to expand, so they moved. In this store, my grandfather was able to do everything a full-sized jewelry store did in those days. Over the next fourteen years his business grew and became one of the largest stores in town. Zales Corporation took notice and decided to buy him out. They then offered to let him manage any one of their 80 stores. He looked all over the country for the store he wanted to run and settled right back in Abilene for the next six months running a new mall store. He then decided he wanted to work for himself again and he couldn’t stay in Abilene due to a non-compete agreement he signed when he sold to Zales.
So in 1966 he moved to Colorado Springs, CO. He started again and this time he had a little money from the earlier buyout. This store is where I got my start. I did the usual things a kid does when he works for the family business. I swept the front sidewalk. I vacuumed and cleaned the glass. I gift-wrapped and did engraving. When I turned twelve I learned how to size rings and solder chains and do other small repairs. When I turned sixteen I started selling diamonds. That was very exciting for me.
My mother and father had a store in northern Texas at this time but since I was in school most of the time I didn’t really get to work in the store too much. I got my real experience every Christmas season and during the summer when I worked for my grandparents.
In 1980 my grandfather decided to retire. He sold his store and moved to San Diego. The weather is almost perfect year round in San Diego and although he was supposed to retire, business was what he really enjoyed, so he opened another store.
In late 1982 my grandfather asked me if I would like to attend the Gemological Institute of America. I took all the money I had and gave it to him and asked if my wife Pat could join me. He said he would make up the difference. GIA was in Santa Monica at that time and our store was in San Diego, about 100 miles away. Every weekend Pat and I would drive to San Diego on Friday and work in the store on Saturday and Sunday. We were getting paid on the weekends so when we graduated from GIA we had a little money. It was with this money that we started David Bowie Jewelers in San Diego in 1984.
We are open Monday through Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm Pacific Standard Time.