By Kaleigh Testwuide ’11

In 2006, when I was studying at New Hampton School, I was approached by Coach Katie Hawke about the opportunity to attend Springfield College and play women’s lacrosse. After my visit to the campus and learning about the Humanics philosophy that Springfield College embodied, I undoubtedly knew that this was the place I should spend the next four years developing the skills I would need to be successful in life. What I didn’t know was that Springfield College would be the foundation for me as a woman leader in the male-dominated diamond industry. Springfield College taught me the true meaning of perseverance.

Kaleigh Testwuide

I graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in health science. At that time, I was interested in pursuing a career as a nurse, but wanted to take some time to make sure that was what I truly wanted. Following graduation, I spent three years in Lake Tahoe working in the restaurant industry. This was a very pivotal time in my life; I certainly found what I wanted and did not want in life. Although skiing in the Sierras couldn’t possibly be a bad life, I knew there was something more for me. In 2014 I decided to move to the great city of Denver.

When I first arrived in Denver, I had no job. What I did know was that I wanted to transition out of the restaurant industry. Denver was filled with so many exciting opportunities and I took the route of searching for a job as an executive assistant. I landed a role as the executive assistant to a CEO, CFO, and COO in a startup company that was led by a team of women. This was an incredible opportunity to soak up leadership skills in business, and that is exactly what I did. After one year, the startup went under and I found myself back in the job market. I went to more than 35 interviews. Not settling, I was looking for something that I could grow in. As I was about to take a position in a property management role, I came across a Craigslist ad to work for a jewelry marketing company called The Diamond Reserve. The position was to manage the marketing company and report to the owner and entrepreneur in private equity. It just seemed so cool and interesting. I got offered the position and little did I know that taking on this role would define my professional life forever.

The Diamond Reserve at the time was a marketing company, generating leads for people searching on Google for all things diamonds. I was to manage those leads and turn them over to a jeweler who would pay a percentage of each profit for the lead generation. I worked directly out of the jeweler’s office. It was so exciting: the safe, the diamonds, the industry as a whole. I found myself becoming more interested in diamonds by the day. This jeweler, in particular, sold EGL certified diamonds. This diamond grading laboratory has been D listed from the world’s largest diamond trading network for falsely grading diamonds. Essentially, it was an unethical sale. I just found it sad that young gentlemen were making one of the biggest purchases in their life and trusting someone who was selling them something it truly wasn’t.

Examining a diamond

After about six months, I went to my fiancé and told him I wanted to buy the marketing company and find a jeweler who would fulfill the leads and sell diamonds certified by GIA, the only non-profit grading laboratory that grades diamonds to benefit the buyer, not the seller. To my surprise, he didn’t think I was crazy. He believed in me! We contacted my boss, the owner of The Diamond Reserve, and began the acquisition. My husband and I scraped together money and reached out to our closest confidantes to invest. Yet again, to my surprise, people were believing in me. In September of 2015 we became the owners of The Diamond Reserve. Just a website and a phone number, holding a significant amount of SEO power in the Denver diamond and jewelry market.

It was GO time. I found a private jeweler who had been in the diamond and jewelry industry for over 40 years to fulfill the leads. We were off running; it was diamond time! I first rebranded. Rebuilding the website and building my mission, we would educate each and every client so they would understand the purchase they were making, with a focus on selling GIA-certified diamonds. It all was happening very fast, and I was in charge. It was an incredibly exciting time in my life, I was working harder than ever. This was my newfound dream. I worked alongside the jeweler learning everything there was to know about diamonds; buying them, selling them, negotiating, and learning how to manage an extremely fast-paced business with a large cash flow. It was then that I found my love for jewelry design, and began to learn about the manufacturing of jewelry. I truly felt like I was exactly where I belonged. I loved building relationships with clients, learning who they were, what they did, where they came from, and I had the incredible opportunity to learn from some outstanding professionals in Denver.

The Diamond Reserve

As time passed, I knew if I was to grow, I would need to fulfill the leads myself. I would need to take the risk of investing in my own diamond inventory and building my own personal relationships across the jewelry industry. In 2018, I founded DR Capital, which buys, sells, and trades diamonds and gold, and manufactures jewelry. I opened my first own office located in Cherry Creek, one of Denver’s most upscale neighborhoods. It was then that I didn’t just own a jewelry marketing business, I was a real player in the diamond industry, fulfilling my own leads. This was when the magic truly began. This is when I, as a woman, would begin to be respected in the male-dominated diamond industry. I rebranded yet again, began growing my team, working tirelessly to be the greatest jeweler Denver would ever know.

I originally had this idea that I would sell one diamond a day. Today WE are selling three to four diamonds a day and creating lasting memories and relationships with the most amazing clients. Me, a small-town girl from New Hampshire, running a multi-million-dollar diamond and jewelry company. WOW, pinch me. Last year, in September 2019, we opened our second location in downtown Denver, and just recently expanded our Cherry Creek office. All of our jewelry is handmade, right here in Denver, of the finest quality. Each day, my team and I continue to work incredibly hard. I am working harder than the day I hit the ground running. Day to day is filled with buying diamonds from dealers, from the public, trading amongst the industry, selling diamonds to the public, and designing jewelry. It truly is more than I could have ever imagined.

I have had so many people ask me, “when is it all enough?” The truth is I am not sure. We recently launched ecommerce testing and we are designing a line of jewelry with about 100 pieces. What am I if I’m not growing and challenging myself? The year 2020 also is when we began giving back. Philanthropy has always been something important to me. This community has given more to me than I could have ever imagined, and now I can begin to start giving back. This means giving opportunities to those who work for me beyond their dreams, building relationships with contractors that are founded on trust and growth, and coming up with our own meaningful ways to give back to our community.

As a woman in business and leadership, my spirit, mind, and body philosophy that Springfield College instilled in me, is what carries me each and every day. I wasn’t a 4.0 scholar. I remember taking Dr. Palone’s infamous exercise physiology course thinking “can I pass this?” I leaned on Dr. Palone and my tutor Greg McMahon, and I did it! I relied on my community at Springfield College, the people who uplifted me, the people who believed in me, and without them, without the fundamental beliefs of Springfield College, I could have never passed that class. Passing a class may not seem like a big deal in life, but it is. It paved the way for me to believe I could do anything I put enough heart and soul into. Now it’s my turn to give back. It is my time now to show someone they can be someone, just like Springfield College did for me. End of article