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Crown Jewel

de Boulle Diamond & Jewelry in the Park Cities is more than a high-end jewelry store—it's a community.

In the early 1980s, Denis Boulle was delivering diamonds when a customer stopped him with a suggestion. Boulle, a native of England, was working in Dallas for another retailer at the time. But the gentleman was certain Boulle, personable as they come, should open his own shop. He even offered to fund the venture. The jewelry business isn’t what you might call a low-capital endeavor.

The rest, as they say, is history. Boulle opened his shop in 1983 and earned enough to pay off his partner in less than a year. Forty years later, de Boulle Diamond & Jewelry stands as a testament to time and luxury in the heart of the Park Cities. It’s also a testament to family—Denis and his wife, Karen, have been in it together from the start. Their two kids now play key roles, as well. Emma Boulle works with Karen to design pieces, helping de Boulle appeal to younger clients. After starting his own digital marketing firm fresh out of college at SMU, Nick Boulle returned to the business in 2015. He now serves as its president, splitting his time between Dallas and the Houston location the family opened in 2015. “People ask, do you live in Dallas or Houston?” Nick says. “I say, ‘yes.’”

He spends so much time south because, at its core, de Boulle has always been a business that is part of its community, entwined with the lives of the people it serves.

“The interactions we have with every person that comes in are very happy—someone is celebrating a milestone in their life, in a relationship, in their career,” he says. “We’re lucky that a lot of our customers become very good friends. … We’re enjoying what we’re doing, and I think that rubs off; it becomes infectious. People will stop by just to have a coffee.”

In addition to its own line of jewelry, de Boulle helps customers go “mind to finger” with a range of gemstones, diamonds, engagement rings, and other custom pieces from their team of in-house jewelers. They’re an authorized retailer for several top luxury brands, including Patek Phillipe, Tudor, and Rolex. They buy, sell, trade, and consign estate jewelry, pre-owned watches, and vintage timepieces. The company even offers corporate sales for businesses looking to impress top employees or clients.

The pieces come in all shapes and sizes. De Boulle has sold jewelry for a couple thousand dollars up to, for a few rare gemstones, as much as $10 million. They will occasionally buy and hold fancy-colored diamonds not only as beautiful, rare items, but because they believe in them as a storage of wealth. As of late, more and more customers have been interested in that market, Nick says.

“Having our building and our environment here allows us to offer that huge range,” he says. “Someone can start with us with a $1,000 ring, and kind of work all the way up to whatever they want.”

The business has been through many locations and a few ups and downs along the way. It started in Snider Plaza in 1983. The Boulles moved from there to a building on Preston Road, a spot tiny enough that the workshop and offices were shoved into the attic. Then, in 2000, the Boulles made another move, this one to the two-story, 13,600-square-foot perch it calls home today. That one happened just as the dot-com bubble and 9/11 were spinning the world into recession. “It was an extremely stressful time,” Nick says.

Through it all, the Boulle family has remained as close as ever. “Certainly we’re not perfect, there are always differences of opinion and everyone has their own stresses in life,” he says. “But we’re very lucky. We get along really well. Even when I’m not working, I’ll go spend time with them on a Sunday.”

And all four remain intrinsically tied into the day-to-day operations. Denis is at the store almost every day. “He’s still super involved,” Nick says. “He loves it. We kind of do it together, and I joke that I’m the legs because I’m always bouncing back and forth, hopping on a flight to wherever I need to go.”

With the back-and-forth travel, would they ever consider opening a third location? Perhaps a fourth? “I’m always looking for opportunities,” says Nick. “But we want the right opportunities. We don’t want to just open for the sake of opening in a smaller market. We’d rather have a large footprint in major markets.”

Boulle may take to the skies for his business travel, but outside of his day job, he prefers the track. Nick drives for de Boulle motorsports, each year taking on a couple of professional endurance races, which range from 6 to 24 hours long. It’s a natural fit; the worlds of motorsports and luxury watches have been linked for years. In 2017, Boulle won the most prestigious endurance race in North America, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, receiving, ironically, a Rolex watch as reward. He narrowly missed another. “If something hadn’t gone wrong, I would have a second Rolex on my wrist,” he says. Of course, if his wrist is ever lonely, Boulle has options. “Doesn’t mean the same as if they give it to you,” he says.

As for his day job, Nick sees a few trends driving the business in the future. One, he’ll be looking to leverage digital marketing to drive more online sales. But two, he’s cognizant that the company’s core, in-person customer increasingly seeks an above-and-beyond experience. De Boulle has planted race cars inside their Dallas shop floor (despite best efforts, they couldn’t get them to fit in Houston). “Clothing brands and others that have had a simpler appeal—they’ve transitioned to being predominately online,” he says. “So, everybody has to kind of know their consumer and pay attention.”

And for the Boulles, that means continuing to cultivate real relationships with their surrounding communities. “The company doesn’t work with us out living somewhere else,” he says. “So, we’re right here.”

“We’re lucky that a lot of our customers become very good friends. … We’re enjoying what we’re doing, and I think that rubs off; it becomes infectious. People will stop by just to have a coffee.” - Nick Boulle

  • Emma and Nick Boulle
  • The Boulles
  • The Boulles
  • Nick Boulle