Camilla Dietz Bergeron, founder of a Madison Avenue estate jewelry boutique and the copresident of the American Society of Jewelry Historians, died May 20. She was 76.
Born in Covington, Ga., Bergeron moved to New York City in 1964 and worked in the investment analysis department of Chase Manhattan Bank. As one of the few women making institutional sales to European clients, she traveled widely, collecting jewelry, perfume bottles, and silver. Less than a decade after graduating, she and four partners formed an investment bank firm, which was purchased by Xerox in 1987, six weeks before the market crashed.
At that point, she made a career change, from “stocks to rocks.” She obtained a degree from the Gemological Institute of America and began a career buying and selling antique, period, and estate jewelry.
In 1989, she teamed up with Gus Davis to form Camilla Dietz Bergeron, an estate jewelry boutique located on 68th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City.
“I do not like jewelry that says, ‘Hello, I’m rich,” she once said. Instead, her taste ran to jewelry that said, “Hello, I’m clever and witty and stylish.” Or as she put it another time, “I buy pretty.”
Bergeron was a big fan of earrings, which she once called “every woman’s number one accessory. Women should not be allowed to go out of the house without them.” She also felt that if you wore diamonds and pearls around your face, you could “put off a face-lift for as long as possible.”
Bergeron was a member of the faculty at the University of Maine Antique & Period Jewelry summer program, where she taught a class on “How to Wear Jewelry.” She later served as copresident of the American Society of Jewelry Historians. Last year, JCK’s Amy Elliott chose a 1940 Cartier piece that she tried on at Bergeron’s store as one of her favorite jewelry pieces of 2017.
In her thirties, Bergeron was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and when she found it difficult to walk, she got around New York City in a scooter.
She is survived by her husband of 31 years, Jean Maurice Georges Bergeron, and sister Harriet Nunnally.
Image courtesy of Camilla Dietz Bergeron