Jeweler Gerald Goldwyn dies at 64

Gerald H. Goldwyn, CEO of Richard D. Eiseman Jewelers in Dallas, died Feb. 17 in Dallas. He was 64.

A much-beloved figure in the industry, Goldwyn joined Eiseman 26 years ago. Prior to moving to Texas, he worked for Marshall Jewelers on Fifth Ave. in New York, the store best known for providing the charm bracelets used on the NBC weekly television program “This is Your Life.” Goldwyn was instrumental in developing the charm bracelet gift idea, and in pulling together the charms that represented the life of each week’s featured guest.

Even in an industry where many—if not most—people are openly passionate about what they do, Goldwyn was known for his love of jewelry.

“I was there on the [Feb.] 7th,” said designer Henry Dunay, a longtime friend of Goldwyn’s. “He was suffering, but he still wanted to talk about jewelry! He wanted to know what I saw, what was new. But that was Jerry.”

He was also known for the pleasure he took in people, his willingness to take time to talk to anyone and his willingness to make an effort to help people. “While I was sitting there with him, someone called him for a job, and he said he’d try to help. On his deathbed!” continued Dunay.

Richard Eiseman, owner of the eponymous store where Goldwyn spent more than two decades, said, “I felt like I was fortunate to have two fathers. Jerry was like a second father to me—and not only a father but also a friend. I’m just better for having known him. He had a real grasp of the whole picture—life, pleasure, work, and friendship, and his teachings continue to guide all of us.”

Goldwyn was a man torn by two passions—jewelry and photography. He was an award-winning nature photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler and Gourmet magazines. The self-taught Goldwyn worked in both color and black-and-white, and his work has been described in several photography articles as having similarities to the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe. An exhibit titled “Nature to Nature: Photographs by Gerald H. Goldwyn” opened at the Dallas Museum of Natural History on January 18, and runs through May 11. At the time of his death, he was working on two upcoming shows in New York and in Aspen.

A press release from the Dallas Museum of Natural History quoted him, “Photography is my passion and knowing that my editions are extremely limited, I find places where the images and the beauty are provided for nature for years to come. My hope is that people will enjoy these images as much as I have enjoyed photographing them.”

Eiseman said he and Goldwyn had had many conversations about photography vs. jewelry. “He didn’t want to leave the [jewelry] business, and we didn’t want him to retire, but he wanted to pursue his passion for photography. He had everything all lined up at the store, and he figured that two or three years down the road, he would be ready to pursue photography full time,” said Eiseman.

On a personal note, my own recollections of Jerry Goldwyn are also very fond. I met him in the mid-1990s when I was JCK’s fashion editor. I was in Dallas and happened to wander into Richard D. Eiseman Jewels. We sat down and talked for more than an hour. Many jewelers will tell us JCK editors what they like about the magazine, but Jerry also told me what he thought needed improvement—and he had some good ideas for articles, as well. After that, I always tried to see him whenever I was in Dallas, although often we seemed to just miss each other. But boy, did I hear about it if I didn’t at least call!

Goldwyn, who was suffering from pancreatic cancer, was the recipient of the Couture Collection & Conference’s 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award. At the Couture show last May, he was clearly tired from his illness but happy to be among his friends and colleagues. In a recent e-mail being circulated among his many friends, Couture Collection brand director Nancy Robey indicated that the Couture Lifetime Achievement Award will be re-named in his honor.

Goldwyn is survived by his wife, Zelda, two children, David and Ellen, and three grandchildren.

Donations in Goldwyn’s memory may be made to: The Gerald Goldwyn Memorial Medical Fund at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, P.O. Box 910888, Dallas, TX 75291-0888