Listening to Beverly Diny of Diny’s Diamonds Florida talk about the gems that are “a girl’s best friend,” you can’t help but be sure she grew up steeped in the fine jewelry trade.
“No!” she will tell you. “I was a sharecropper’s daughter, growing up in rural Wisconsin. I had six brothers and a sister, and I was the third youngest.
“One of my best memories from my childhood was a Saturday in early summer,” Bev recalls. “I was about nine years old, and my mother was teaching me how to feed clothes through the wringer washer. It made me feel important.” The machine wasn’t easy to use, but, says Bev, that was the point: “My mother approached it as a learning experience for me. She didn’t try to ‘protect’ us from life. She wanted us all to be self-sufficient.”
The lessons took.
Bev enrolled in welding classes in high school, married Pete Diny after graduation, and the two embarked on an adventure that continues to this day.
As newlyweds, both Bev and Pete joined the Army National Guard. After returning home, Pete was hired as an apprentice to a local jeweler. Bev moved in and out of factory welding jobs. The economy was struggling in the early Eighties, and Bev and Pete knew they’d both soon be unemployed.
Pete had learned watch and clock making during his apprenticeship, so, “I became a cheerleader,” says Bev. “I told Pete we should open our own shop,” and “You can teach me!”
And that’s what they did. They wrote to the State Chamber of Commerce asking for a list of small towns that needed a jewelry store. They found Darlington, in southern Wisconsin, making their move with a $10,000 start-up loan from a family member at 18% interest, the going rate back then.
“That was in April of 1983,” says Bev. “The shop was small. It had no lighting, no display cases, no safe, no alarm … nothing! And inventory? What we could afford to stock was only enough to fit in a small box!” That turned out to be a blessing because, without a safe or an alarm, Pete and Bev packed their wares up every night and took them home, sliding the box under their bed, next to their loaded gun. “The first thing we saved for was a safe,” she notes.
They stayed in Darlington for two years, concentrating on inventory that sold quickly in their small community and getting immersed in service groups like the Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce. As they built their business, an opportunity came to acquire a larger store, which they found in Stoughton, WI.
Diny’s Jewelers stayed in Stoughton for 15 years, long enough for Pete and Bev to raise their two children, Nick and Sara, and long enough to experiment with a second location, at a mall in Madison.
“That was hard on the family,” acknowledges Bev, “and sales were slow. We decided to return to a single location — in Middleton.
“We’d grown a lot: we had a million-dollar inventory,” relates Bev, “and we had a giant safe large enough to protect it.” Bev took on the task of overseeing the build-out for their shop in Middleton. “I loved it!” she says.
She also loved … Florida! She’d been vacationing on the Sunshine State’s east coast since she was 28 years old, but when a friend invited her to explore Treasure Island about 17 years ago, Bev accepted. She so enjoyed the small Gulfside community that she kept coming back on her own, staying at the Bilmar, meeting residents, exploring shops, and feeling right at home. “Everyone in town seemed to know everyone else. It was like being back in small town America,” she describes, “but on the beach. I really liked the culture.”
She also liked the idea of bringing Diny’s Jewelers to the beach, but she remembered how hard it was to run two locations in one state, let alone two. Still, on one of her visits, she found a small, boutique jewelry store on 107th Avenue that she really liked.
She and Pete were at home in Wisconsin, cruising the internet one evening in 2015, when Pete suddenly said, “Bev! That shop you liked on Treasure Island is for sale!”
Bev was torn. She’d often talked to Pete about moving to Florida, but he’s not a fan of the sub-tropical climate. He is a fan of his wife, however, and told Bev that if she wanted this opportunity, she should go for it while they both were still healthy. Hours of discussions later, Bev excitedly planned her next trip to Florida.
Bev sealed the deal and together she and Pete prepared for the opening of Diny’s Jewelers of Treasure Island. With their children grown and and working in their main store, continuing its tradition of success, it’s easier to run two locations. Bev and Pete make plenty of time to visit each other’s “home base,” and the stores have made yet another change: they’re now “Diny’s Diamonds,” even though they continue to service all types of jewelry.
Bev attends conventions each year, traveling to Antwerp, Belgium, and selecting the diamonds and jewelry that will fill the display cases at both shops. Pete is a respected appraiser. Bev takes care to make sure that Diny’s Diamonds offers something beautiful in a variety of price ranges.
“Tiffany’s is like that,” she points out. “I like to say we’re like a miniature Tiffany’s. Everybody deserves something nice,” Bev emphasizes.
Just as all the incarnations of Diny’s have involved Pete and Bev in their communities, Diny’s Diamonds Florida is active in the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Treasure Islettes, and a variety of organizations that do good. The shop’s restyling events invite the public in to create lovely new settings for treasured family gemstones.
The next promotion for Diny’s Diamonds Florida is “Pearl Month,” celebrated throughout June. Bev encourages customers new and familiar to bring in their teasures for evaluation and free design consultation.
Are there more adventures in store? “I’m an eternal optimist,” says Bev.