Irving W. Marks, founder and president of the largest independent jeweler in greater Houston, died of cancer Tuesday at The Methodist Hospital there. He was 73.

A native of Chicago, Marks relocated to Houston in 1963 as a sales representative for Wembley Ties. In 1978 he opened I.W. Marks, a 500-square-foot jewelry store on Bellaire Boulevard near the Galleria mall and Texas Medical Center.

Earning a reputation for bridal jewelry and attentive service, Marks gradually expanded the store to its current 10,000 square feet. In 2004 he opened a second unit in suburban Sugar Land, Tex. As he built his business, Marks served on numerous civic, arts and business boards and was honored with more than two dozen awards for his contributions and philanthropy.

In addition to an extensive array of bridal jewelry, I.W. Marks offers designer collections such as Damiani, Lagos, Charriol, Dominique Cohen, Anthony Nak and Jude Frances, plus an array of watches including Rolex, Baume & Mercier, Raymond Weil, Tag Heuer and others.

Marks’ sons, Bradley and Daniel, currently vice presidents of the jeweler, will continue to operate the business, a company spokeswoman said.

In addition to his sons, Marks is survived by his wife, Shelly Ann Marks, a sister, Ruth Silver, and two grandsons, William and Andrew.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston.

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