Rick Terry Jewelry Designs

The Jeweler

Finding your niche isn’t always easy, but when a person finds the space they’re most meant to be in, they just might become a master.

You walk into any jewelry store in the country, and chances are, if you peek behind the curtain, what you’re going to find is the shipping department. But Rick Terry Jewelry Designs has no curtain. Rick Terry Jewelry Designs has a huge window, and what you’ll find behind it is the workshop of a master jeweler: the precision tools gleaming in rows, the CNC milling machine humming and whirring, and the focused faces of his team at work, hands in motion. “There’s not another store like this in existence in the southeast,” says Rick.

Becoming a master jeweler is not a journey you can take in a day. Rather it’s one you earn over the course of a lifetime. And for Rick, that title started to make sense during a happenstance meeting during the earliest years of his business, when a customer recognized him at a restaurant. “Come here, come here,” she told her sister. “You’ve got to meet my jeweler.”

Beginning the Journey

Sometimes the passing of one generation opens the door for the next. Rick Terry was not born into the world of jewelry; when his family first moved up to Knoxville in the 70s, he sold Suzuki motorcycles. “It was fun, but I didn’t see a future there,” says Rick. In a moment of contemplation, during the celebration of his late grandfather’s life in 1981, he knew he needed a change. Buck Moseley, an old friend of his father’s, had just opened a small jewelry store in Rick’s hometown in Louisiana, and he needed someone he could trust like family in the business. He invited Rick to join him for a seven-week trial period as an apprentice jeweler. “And so I packed up my bags, got on a motorcycle, left my newlywed wife here in Knoxville, and went south to learn the jewelry industry,” Rick says.

Within weeks, he knew this was the path he was meant to walk.

At Moseley’s Jewelers, he not only learned the tools of the trade but discovered his passion for the craft, and his weeks-long apprenticeship became a years-long partnership. In 1986, when his wife Patty became pregnant with their first child, they returned to Tennessee and shared his passion with his father. Together, they opened their own jewelry store: the Goldmaster. They stayed in business together until his father decided to retire in 1997, and Rick struck out on his own. He opened up shop on Kingston Pike as Rick Terry Jewelry Designs, a name that has endured to this day.

Jewelry for Today and Tomorrow

Rick’s been on this journey for a long time now, and every day he’s working to improve his craft and blend new technology into his tried-and-true process. “As technology has improved, we’ve really embraced it,” Rick says, adding that the services they can now provide are beyond those that most mom-and-pop jewelry stores can offer.

He’s welcomed both of his sons into the family business, and both of them have brought their unique skillsets and perspectives to the workbench.

His eldest son Blake works in CAD 3D modeling software, where he designs jewelry digitally and can even print out a plastic model in the exact shape and size of the actual jewelry.

“Customers get to see a lifelike photorealistic image, as well as the plastic prototype,” explains Blake. It gives the customer the chance to really see and feel what their custom jewelry will be like, and they can ask for changes to the design without it dramatically increasing the cost.

“I have really enjoyed being able to involve the customer more in a lot of those experiences in the back of the shop,” adds Matt, his younger son.

Once the customer is satisfied with the design, Rick and his team decide if they’re going to 3D print it in wax, another modern innovation in jewelry, but sometimes there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned milling, the way Rick first taught his boys to do it. Blake describes the milling process as the modern method of carving wax, the same way a sculptor might carve designs into marble or ice; it can be a time-consuming process, as much art as science, but sometimes that’s what you need for that perfect cut.

While there are many ways to go about handcrafting the perfect piece of custom jewelry, to them, the handcrafting is always where the craftsman’s vision comes to life.

“It’s like hand-building a car, or buying an assembled car,” says Blake. “It’s the difference between a Ford Focus and a Ferrari.”

And at Rick Terry Jewelry Design, you can watch the process play out in front of your eyes. They are confident they can craft the perfect piece for any customer, and the results are simply one-of-a-kind.

“No matter what idea or materials or request that the customers come to us with, we have the people and the abilities and the passion to do it on a higher level than anybody else,” Blake says.

Moments in Gold

When that customer approached Rick all those years ago to introduce her sister to her jeweler, it was an eye-opening moment. It then occurred to Rick that his customers truly saw him as their jeweler rather just a retail jewelry salesman. To many of them, he learned, his custom work – his attention to detail and the stunning results – made him a part of the most meaningful moments of their lives. From that moment on, he knew he wasn’t just making jewelry; he was making joy and treasured memories for every person who walked in the door. He smiles as he looks back on the moments he’s helped create for them, and he looks forward with pride as he watches his sons creating moments of their own.

He remembers restoring and recasting a woman’s ring for her family after she passed, letting them carry on their loved one’s legacy in an elegant, modern style. He recalls walking in on a Sunday school class to present one of his custom pieces to the wife of a service member deployed overseas, whose service meant he couldn’t be there in person. Every single custom design is an opportunity to make not just a great piece of jewelry but an irreplaceable memory.

Blake Terry showcasing a 3D design. | Photo by Nathan Sparks.

“Years ago I was given a gift: the opportunity to use my God-given talent to bring joy to people’s lives,” says Rick. “A jeweler’s role is to create a piece of jewelry to celebrate the special moments that are really important to people.”

After all these years, most days you can still find Rick Terry at his workbench, sketching out his next design. But the quote we’ve become so familiar with has changed, with his sons now working by his side. These days they say ‘we want to be your jewelers’, and as a combined team, there’s no doubt they’ll be able to bring your special moment to life.

11320 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37918 | (865) 777-3793


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