Fred Cuellar’s Story
Fred Cuellar, the founder and president of Diamond Cutters International, is one of the world’s top diamond experts. With over 35 years of experience in the diamond and jewelry business, Fred’s clients include the First Lady and President George W. Bush, Oprah, the Dallas Cowboys, the Detroit Red Wings, Anschutz Corporation, Saudi Royal Family and hundreds of professional athletes and celebrities. Fred is a consultant, best-selling author, writer, and columnist.
We sat down with Fred Cuellar to hear his philosophy on success, hard work, and love.
Fred, you started in the jewelry business while still in college. How did that come about?
Fred Cuellar: When I was young, I dreamed of being a pilot in the Air Force like my dad. I would hold model airplanes of the jets he flew and fly them around the room.
That dream ended when I got spinal meningitis and nearly lost my life. When I came out of my coma, I was half blind and my future was uncertain.
I remember my dad sitting me down and saying that I wouldn’t be able to be a pilot in the Air Force, but I should set my sights (what was left of them) on being a mechanical engineer. I didn’t know what a mechanical engineer was, but if my dad told me that was the new goal, I would redirect myself. He said, “The world will always need a mechanical engineer.”
When it came time to pick a college, my big sister (along with many others in my family tree) had gone to Texas A&M. The school had a good engineering department, so off I went.
While I was there, they opened a new mall, Post Oak Mall. I decided to get a job at the mall so I could have some walking around money. One of the first job openings that caught my eye was at Gordon’s Jewelers. I applied and was hired. That’s where I caught the “diamond bug”.
Fred Cuellar Answers: What did you learn during the early years in the diamond industry?
Fred: I learned that for the most part, there is a great comaraderie in the diamond business. Trust is everything. Your word is everything. Multimillion-dollar deals are made on a handshake.
I like that; I like people holding themselves accountable and taking responsibility for their actions. Being true to my word, honoring my commitments, and promising less and delivering more are the bedrock to everything I do.
“Trust is everything. Your word is everything.”
Fred Cuellar Answers: What was the catalyst that propelled you to start Diamond Cutters International?
Fred: Meeting Anthony Robbins in 1984. We were both stranded at the Atlanta Airport waiting for our connecting flights. We started up a conversation, and he told me that he was nervous about going on his first national talk show, the Merv Griffin Show. I asked him why he was going on (he wasn’t famous yet) and he told me something I will never forget.
He said, “There are people in this world who will do things that have never been done, say things that have never been said, write things that have never been written.”
Then he concluded, “I figured out that I wasn’t one of those special people.”
Confused, I then replied, “You’re going on the Merv Griffin Show because you figured out that you’re not special?”
And he said, “No, no, that’s not it! I figured out that it doesn’t make a difference! I figured out that success can be copied! If you’re overweight, you don’t have to figure out how to reinvent the wheel.”
He then explained, “All you have to do is go to someone who was overweight and is now thin and ask them how they did it. If you want money, ask someone who was broke and is now wealthy how they did it. No love in your life? Ask someone who was in the same boat and found love how they did it! The key to life isn’t being special, it is recognizing what has worked for others and following their recipe. It’s simple: success can be copied.”
After that conversation I thought, “Well, certainly I can copy something someone else has done.” I knew there were diamond and colored stone cutting houses on either coast, but there weren’t any in the center of the United States. I could copy that.
“Success can be copied! The key to life isn’t being special, it is recognizing what has worked for others and following their recipe.” – Anthony Robbins
Fred Cuellar Answers: Diamond Cutters International has been in business for over 35 years. Are there particular high points during those 35 years? Low points? Why do you keep doing what you do?
Fred: In 35 years, Diamond Cutters International has had the honor of being the jeweler for four out of the last five Presidents of the United States. We’ve been acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records for our jewelry designs like the World’s Most Expensive Rubik’s Cube (The Masterpiece Cube). We have been chosen to create the championship rings for the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Redwings, New York Yankees, and more. Our book, How to Buy a Diamond, has been the number-one bestselling book about diamonds for decades and was even printed in Chinese.
I could go on and on. But the simple answer is: LaTeace Towns-Cuellar, my wife of 31 years. If it wasn’t for Diamond Cutters International, I never would have met her. You see, over 33 years ago, she heard an advertisement on the radio for our company and recommended to her mom to come see me for an appraisal. Thankfully, LaTeace came along for the ride. It was love at first sight.
Lows? I don’t know that any quickly come to mind. I’ve been very blessed.
I keep doing what I’m doing because I love Love. Every day I get to wake up and get to be a small part of people’s lives. I get to be entrusted with making their wedding rings, the future heirlooms of couples that love each other. It doesn’t get any better than that.
“I keep doing what I’m doing because I love Love.”
Fred Cuellar Answers: If you were to talk to someone interested in getting into the diamond business, what advice would you give them?
Fred: Take the words “diamond business” out of your question. What advice would I give anybody who is choosing a career? Be of service. Do something you love. To the degree that you satisfy others’ needs, your needs will be satisfied. If you’re not excited about getting out of bed and going to work in the morning, you’re in the wrong job. Never do for money what you would never do for love.