“I was on top of the world.” Bill Davis recalls his first sale, an onyx and gold bracelet. His grandparents carefully watched their aspiring 12-year-old protégé clinch the deal at Pate Jewelers in McKenzie, TN. “The customer entered, a large fellow, dressed unassumingly in overalls and a flannel shirt. He needed the gift for his daughter.” It was the start of an illustrious career.
Today William Davis, Jr. is owner of elegant Pate-Davis Jewelers (www.pate-davis.com) in the upscale Belle Meade area of Nashville. “I’ve always been interested in jewelry, wanted to sell and restore. I’ve been at the family store from when I was very little, helping arrange the front case or playing in the safe, a magical hiding place.
“Irby Pate, my great-grandfather, started the business in 1895 in nearby McKenzie. My mother didn’t want to run the store. My two siblings also chose other paths, both becoming doctors. In 1996 I inherited the store, added my name Davis and moved back to Nashville.”
Carved wooden cases from the original store grace the well-designed interior with its old-world ambience of Persian rugs and antiques. Cullainne, the 1arger-than-life Irish wolfhound, affably greets clients as they enter. Pate-Davis reflects the finest, from Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constatin timepieces to exclusive Faberge originals, custom bridal and estate pieces. “We offer exceptional gems. One recent ring was a 4 1⁄2 carat radiant-cut diamond enclosed by two trillion side stones.” Pate-Davis also features designer jewelry, recently hosting a Mia Katrin for JEWEL COUTURE LLC Trunk Show.
“Nashville’s a great town,” Bill explains. “Nice people with a great taste in jewels.” The country music scene adds local color - and clientele. “You never know who’s going to walk in the door. Tanya Tucker came in - I didn’t know who she was. Sometimes you only recognize the name when you see it on the check.”
Big names can lead to big referrals. “We did a wedding ring for Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss’ dobro player. We also did a ring for her brother, Viktor Krauss, as well as Neil Young’s guitar player. Many under-the–radar music people - producers and songwriters - also come in.
“The Country Club set is also a big draw. The prestigious Swan Ball is a coveted invitation. Ladies will come in two or three months before the annual event and bring their gown to have a coordinating custom necklace made. We recently designed a sapphire and diamond suite that was convertible to also make it more appropriate for everyday wear.”
Pate-Davis is the exclusive dealer for Faberge in Tennessee and surrounding regions. “Faberge originated in France but gained prominence through Carl Peter Faberge. His father had moved to St. Petersburg and opened a shop. Under Carl’s guidance, the House of Faberge won international awards and operated a factory with hundreds of jewelers and designers.
“Faberge became jeweler to the tsar. Every year the firm would make a unique jeweled egg for the tsar to surprise the tsarina with at Easter. The large pieces were incredible, including hand painted scenes and miniature replicas with accurate working details, all encrusted with jewels and gold.
“These exceptional objects d’art became popular with the Romanovs’ royal cousins, the Windsors, in England, who became collectors. Queen Elizabeth II has the largest collection of Faberge in the world, with hundreds of pieces currently on display in Buckingham Palace. The original artifacts are priceless, commanding a price in the millions if ever available on the market.
“I was always fascinated by the intricacies of the original Faberge eggs,” Bill reveals. “I approached Faberge about carrying their line. They sent one of their salesmen from New York to our store, liked what they saw, and seven years ago we became the exclusive authorized dealer in the region.
“The Collection is truly limited as Faberge is not producing any new designs. Every piece is hand-engraved, signed and numbered with a Certificate of Authenticity. I’m honored to have become acquainted with HRH Archduke Geza von Habsburg, the world’s foremost authority on Faberge. He inherited a vast collection and has devoted his life to understanding and preserving it. An art historian PhD, he has authored many books on the subject.”
Bill has also recently launched his own new handmade St. George Collection of necklaces and bracelets in 18 karat gold and sterling silver. “St. George, the Patron Saint of England, taught the world that the dragon was a form of fear and that only through faith could the dragon be slayed within their hearts. It’s a timely message today.”
Bill frequently travels to Oxford, England, and lives with his wife, college sweetheart Jill, and their two daughters in a 100-year old house in Nashville they’re currently restoring. His hobbies include Jaguars and painting. A true aficionado, Pate-Davis reflects his commitment to only the finest.