Zoltan David

Austin's jewelry artist, the classically trained creator of award-winning work

Austin's jewelry artist, award-winning Sir Zoltan David

Zoltan David jeweler
Zoltan David Photo by Jessica Pages

Sir Zoltan David’s career is a storied one, decorated with a host of accolades as unique as the handcrafted jewelry he creates.

A classically trained goldsmith and diamond setter, David defines himself as a “jewelry artist,” a singular term that reflects the artistry, craftsmanship and execution seen in his award-winning work.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, David began his career in Vancouver, Canada and established Zoltan David Fine Jewelry Design in 1980. He eventually anchored in Austin, a move he attributes to his wife — a fifth generation Texan — as well as his love of water and the outdoors.

It was in Austin where David established his first storefront (located in the Arboretum for 10 years), thus moving his work from the exhibition-only space into the retail environment. And it is in Austin where his internationally recognized pieces are conceptualized and created — all crafted in-house by a staff he has personally trained.

Throughout his career, David has received a number of unique accolades. He was the first designer in history to be named both New Design Talent and New Designer of the Year by Jewelers of America, and in 2007, National Jeweler Magazine named David one of the “Top 100 Designers in the Past 30 Years."

Perhaps his most prized achievement is being awarded a patent for his signature metal ornamentation technique, the only metal ornamentation patent worldwide. For David, the achievement represents the truly unique quality of his creations.

Today, his creations are displayed at the Flagship Gallery in the Hill Country Galleria and at Zoltan David Collection at The Oasis. While his work has been recognized across the globe, the artist has no plans of leaving the southern locale he's grown to call home. “Austin has been very good to me,” he says warmly.

Your chief characteristic?

I could not decide between wisdom, beauty, intelligence, bravery, loyalty or highly talented, so I have decided on humility.

Your idea of happiness?

Having the freedom to accomplish my dreams, and "living the wish fulfilled."

Your idea of misery?

The loss of personal freedom.

What is your favorite pastime?

Krav Maga, boating, wake surfing and hiking.

Your favorite food and drink?

Blueberries and club soda. My favorite meal with drink is my mother's Chicken Paprikash (Hungarian recipe) and an ice cold beer.

Your favorite restaurant — in your hometown and in the world?

In Austin, it is very difficult for me to pick a favorite, there are many very good ones. But if I had to pick, it would be Hudson's on the Bend. In the world, I would have to pick one in the good old U.S.A... Susanna Foo in Philly.

Your pet aversion?

Leaving the phone off the charger.

Your favorite motto?

My favorite motto is my father's favorite motto, which is also tattooed on my son's shoulder... Vini,Vidi,Vici. A quote from Julius Caeser. My other favorite motto comes from a quote of mine: "Artists do not follow trends, they liberate people from them."

If not yourself, who would you be?

A combination of Leonardo Da Vinci, Sting and the Green Lantern.

Your favorite heroes in real life?

In this there is a broad range. From Thomas Jefferson, my father, my son and my wife, to the child fighting against leukemia, a selfless caregiver, a father or mother sacrificing all for the betterment of their children, Navy Seals, military and their families. It is a long list and includes anyone who faces adversity with a willful and fearless attitude and knows that victory is the only acceptable outcome.

What is the best advice you ever received?

From my father: Never lose your momentum.

Something people would be surprised to know about you?

I am good at reading tea leaves.