Well-known jewelry industry wholesaler Lary Kuehn, GG, FGA, whose eponymous company R. Lary Kuehn, Inc. was the place to stop and shop during Dallas jewelry markets from 1974-1988, died at age 84 on January 2, 2024. His “Precious World of Colored Gems” showroom was among the first to introduce all 52 colored gem species to designers and custom jewelers hungry for something new. There was nothing “semi-precious” about gems with color, and he sold them all at #356-3 World Trade Center and on the road, visiting small town jewelers throughout the Southwest and at trade shows.
Kuehn jumped into gemstones with both feet after visiting a rock show and falling in love with a pair of large Russian purple amethysts. He paid $25 for the pair. His wife Shelly was aghast at the expense, since he knew nothing about any gemstone, and she promptly enrolled him in a study course at the Dallas Museum of Natural Science. Led by Orlando S. Paddock, a contemporary of Robert Shipley of AGS, the study group evolved into enthusiastic gemologists who left footprints across the jewelry business.
That was followed by Kuehn’s Graduate Gemologist diploma in the mid-1970s and quickly with his F.G.A. credentials (Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain) by 1979. He was so busy selling gems that he challenged the strict British course leaders for the second year – and passed. Kuehn had a very keen eye about gems and was an excellent gemologist who assisted jewelers across the country in broadening their skills.
It was in Tucson in 1977-78 that the American Gem Trade Association evolved from a group of disgruntled wholesale dealers, and Lary Kuehn was among the charter members of that seminal trade organization. He led the AGTA Nomenclature Committee and was on the Board for several years, even as it evolved from a struggling group located in Phoenix to assisting AGTA’s move to Dallas in 1986 and gaining prime office space within the WTC at a favorable rate.
With the ever-evolving cycle of economic booms and busts, Kuehn transitioned into selling Lazare Kaplan Diamonds for several years and honed his skills with antique jewelry later, becoming the go-to jeweler within Dallas’ Sterling Jewelry. He was a member of Dallas’ 24 Karat Club, then on the Board of Paris Jr. College School of Jewelry Technology for 32 years, where he also lectured classes for many years.
A 1961 graduate of TCU with a BA degree in Fine Arts and a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, Kuehn was a 40-year resident of University Park/Dallas and later Lake Highlands. He was invited by USAID to take on a project to assist miners and dealers in Sri Lanka following the devastating tsunami that hit that Indian Ocean island in 2002. He and wife Shelly, herself a G.G. and former Southern Jewelry News columnist, accepted the six-month project aimed at helping dealers improve their PR skills when selling at U.S. markets. That assignment developed just after the Kuehns built and had moved into their dream home in the Cross Timbers countryside north of the Dallas metroplex.
Kuehn’s retirement also encompassed his lifelong involvement with the mentalists within the magic community (think David Copperfield), and he resumed his long associations with psychic entertainers by writing articles and a series of books devoted to “how-to” techniques. Life was never dull in the Kuehn’s household.
Lary Kuehn died from an undiagnosed massive metastatic cancer that became evident after the Christmas holidays. His passing was peaceful in the short time he was in the Intensive Care Unit at North Texas Medical Center in Gainesville, TX. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shelly, sons Scott (Julie) and Blake (Celeste) and grandchildren Tyler and Allison, and other Kuehn family members who loved him dearly.
A Celebration of his amazing life is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 2024 in the Chapel of the Geo. J. Carroll Funeral Home at 602 Lindsay St., Gainesville, TX 76240 at 1 pm. Additional information is available online at geojcarroll.com.