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David S. Kwiat, former president of his family’s namesake diamond jewelry brand, died on Aug. 9 at his Long Island, N.Y., home. He was 94.
This story first appeared in the August 17, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“He was really one of the first to create diamond jewelry on a wholesale level,” said Greg Kwiat, chief financial officer of the firm and Kwiat’s grandson, adding that his grandfather developed the company as a wholesaler to clients such as Harry Winston and Tiffany & Co., among others.
David Kwiat also realized the potential of the engagement ring and wedding band market, strengthening the brand’s offerings. In 2007, Kwiat opened its first flagship, on Madison Avenue, to celebrate the firm’s 100th year. The company also bejeweled celebrities on the red carpet, including Natalie Portman, Jennifer Hudson and Mark Wahlberg.
Kwiat is sold in 200 stores nationwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and independent jewelers.
The son of company founder Sam Kwiat, David Kwiat was born and raised in Brooklyn and joined his father in the business in 1933, when he was just 17 years old.
“He was a real craftsmen, an expert in diamond cutting, and involved in the cutting of very many important stones [including a 100-carat diamond],” Greg Kwiat said, adding that his grandfather gained his expertise “from working and doing and experiencing the business first-hand.”
David Kwiat “never really retired,” his grandson said. “He was always working, always active in the business….I’ll remember his passion for diamonds, his sharp mind and his love for his family.”
His sons, Sheldon and Lowell, are co-presidents of Kwiat. In addition, Kwiat is survived by his wife, Shirley; a daughter, Carol; seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Private funeral services were held on Tuesday at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, N.Y.