‘Jeweler’s jeweler,’ Charlotte philanthropist Ernest Perry passes away

There’s no word yet on funeral arrangements.
Ernest Perry, one of Charlotte’s most iconic business leaders and philanthropists, has passed away.
Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 12:12 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2023 at 12:51 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One of Charlotte’s most iconic business leaders has passed away.

Ernest Perry, who founded Perry’s Diamonds and Estate Jewelry and was often called the “jeweler’s jeweler,” died over the weekend, according to a message from the business.

“Ernie was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, visionary and leader in the Charlotte community,” a post on the business’s Instagram page stated. “He was an amazing philanthropist, and truly enjoyed donating his time, talent and jewelry to many non-profit organizations throughout the Carolinas. His incredible generosity to the community, and to those around him, will be missed the most with his passing.”

Perry got his start in the jewelry business when he joined jewelry franchise The Jewel Box as the manager of the SouthPark Mall location, according to a news release.

He met his wife of 45 years, Priscilla, in 1976. Two years later, they were married and in that same year, they established their own jewelry company, Perry’s Jewelry Emporium, the release stated.

The couple opened a gold-buying office on Independence Boulevard and later opened a location in SouthPark Mall in 1981, according to the company. It moved to its current location on Carnegie Boulevard in 2012 and rebranded to Perry’s Diamonds and Estate Jewelry in 2018 as part of the business’s 40th-anniversary celebration, the release stated. There are currently more than 30 employees.

A licensed auctioneer, Perry volunteered his time to non-profit organizations across the Carolinas for fundraising galas and events. It’s estimated that he has helped organizations like the Allegra Foundation, Second Harvest Foodbank of Metrolina, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Patriot Military Family Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation raise $55 million over the last 45 years, according to the news release.

“Ernie’s honesty and integrity in business, and his loyalty to those who worked for him, is of a type rarely seen in today’s world,” a statement from the company read in part. “Ernie valued the relationships he built with each and every one of his customers and vendors and impressed upon his staff the importance of treating everyone with respect, kindness, and dignity.”

Perry’s Diamonds and Estate Jewelry was closed on Monday to allow staff and opportunity to grieve. The business will reopen with regular hours on Tuesday.

A celebration of life will be held for Perry in August and preparations are still being made, according to the release. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to a charitable organization of their choosing in his memory.

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