Ricardo “Rick” Antona Jr. (pictured), the cofounder and owner of Houston jewelry store Uptown Diamond, died of COVID-19 on Sept. 18. He was 54.
Wife Kerry Antona says her husband had not gotten vaccinated, “not because he didn’t want to, he just never took the time to get it—he was busy running the store.” She adds that she wants to spread awareness of COVID-19 and the importance of “getting your shots.”
She says that Uptown Diamond will remain open, though it won’t be the same without the heart and soul behind it.
Born in New York City, Rick was raised in Houston and attended Texas Tech University, where he played football. A chance encounter with Harry Gordon Jr. led to a job managing Gordon’s store in Houston. Rick then worked at Diamond Cutters International before cofounding Uptown Diamond in 2012.
He gave the store a unique—and very masculine—personality, filling the walls with sports memorabilia and autographs.
“He wanted a place where men could sit down and have a beer and relax,” Kerry says. “It’s just a very interesting place to be. Men are drawn to it.”
Her husband “loved” the jewelry business and worked hard at making his store successful, she says.
“He liked to say he was one of Santa’s elves, because he would work to the very last minute on Christmas,” she remembers. “He was always last to leave.”
Rick’s store became known for designing championship rings for sports teams and universities. Once, he even fashioned a gem-studded drumstick for Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer.
Kerry remembers her husband as “hilarious.… He was totally an entertainer—loved to make people laugh, loved to make people happy. People were drawn to him.
“We were invited to so many weddings,” Kerry says. “People would come in, buy an engagement ring, and invite him to their wedding because they liked him so much.”
At the same time, he was a religious man, devoted to his family.
“He was a very caring person. I have had so many people coming out of the woodwork, talking about things he did for them. He’d give a waiter in a restaurant a couple of hundred dollars for his son’s college fund.”
“[We] lost the kindest, most unique, joyful, trusted, and compassionate individual,” the store posted on Instagram. “While our hearts are broken, we celebrate an incredible man and extraordinary life lived.”
Rick is survived by Kerry, his wife of 29 years; son Ryan; daughter Olivia; father Rick Antona Sr.; and sister Jennifer Oswald.
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