Life is about love for Bert and Tyna Wheat. Love for the jewelry industry, love for Evansville, and love for each other.
As owners and operators of The Diamond Galleria, located on Evansville’s East Side, the Wheats — who have been married for almost 30 years — thrive on helping Tri-State couples find the perfect jewelry pieces to celebrate the happiest moments of their lives.
But that love and passion isn’t just for the jewelry they display and sell. The Wheats credit much of their success to their willingness to contribute to the community.
“Those two things go hand in hand,” says Bert. “Our success and our give back drive one another.”
The couple proudly admits their business model is quite different than others. Founded four years ago, The Diamond Galleria was born from a vision of Tyna’s to offer a unique, different, and welcoming jewelry shopping experience to Evansville and the surrounding areas.
“Tyna had imagined a whole new way to shop in Evansville,” says Bert. “She put this whole thing together. I had been out of the industry for a couple years, and she brought me back in. I started hiring and training sales staff, so I got the bug back.”
“Jewelry does tend to get in your blood,” says Tyna, who has spent 32 years in the industry.
For the Wheats, their complementary personalities not only work for their marriage, but their business as well. Tyna is the expert when it comes to merchandising and marketing; she is responsible for the product that comes into the store and the overall look of The Diamond Galleria. Bert’s expertise is in training and general operations. Everything that goes on in the store falls under his umbrella.
In the jewelry business, staying the same is something of a common occurrence, says Tyna. The Diamond Galleria works hard to not fall into that rut. When it comes to staying unique, Tyna’s positions with the Leading Jewelers Guild (chairman of the board) and the Continental Buying Group help the store stay ahead with trends, provide connections to designers, and offer the best products for the store.
“We have the best job in the world. Not only do we get to work with people at the happiest points in their lives and celebrate special moments,” says Bert, “but we get to make things better for the Tri-State.”
It is the Wheats’ charitable spirit that gives their business a different model. From day one, the couple has worked not only to build their name in the jewelry industry, but also their contributions to the nonprofit organizations of Evansville.
“That has been Bert’s mission,” says Tyna. “That’s the arm of the business he’s really taken the ball and ran with.”
When the business began in 2014, Bert was working to find organizations to partner with. The first event The Diamond Galleria would notch under its belt would be for Gilda’s Club.
“That was our first dip into events. Then we did a few more. But when we worked with the Tri-State Medical Alliance and did (their event), which was a huge success, that was when people started reaching out to us,” says Bert.
The couple steers their giving to local charities and those national organizations where the majority of proceeds stay within the community. As their business has grown, the sponsorships and charity work have as well. From smaller charities such as Chemo Buddies and Broken Homes Mended Hearts to larger organizations like Easterseals, March of Dimes, the Deaconess Foundation, and the Tri-State Multiple Sclerosis Association, Bert and Tyna strive to help as much as they can, always brainstorming new ways to make a difference.
The work of the Wheats extends beyond just sponsorships, events, and cash donations as well. Over the years, they have amassed many items and equipment to help host events at the store — a stage, catering dishes and stemware, lighting, and more. For smaller charities, the donation of use of these items helps offset fundraising costs. So while they may not be able to write a check to the charity, Bert and Tyna say they are more than happy to help in any way they can with such donations.
“The bottom line is we’re at the age where you take a step back and look at life and what your goals are,” says Bert. “When we talked conceptually about the store, we discussed how it can drive making Evansville and the Tri-State a better place.”
The Wheats don’t shy away from the fact their business has been extremely successful over the last four years, recognizing the incentives that come with being business owners who are involved with the community. But for them, it all comes back to addressing the needs of those in the community — if the business succeeds, that is just more donations, sponsorships, and help Bert and Tyna can provide the organizations of Evansville.
“It’s very rewarding to see your vision coming true,” says Tyna. “Bert and I wanted to give back to the community that has and continues to support us.”
Every day reminds her how they are blessed not only with their business, but the ability to impact people’s lives, says Tyna.
“We wish we could do more. I’m amazed at how much we can do. And our goal is to always try to do more,” she says.
“I think we are both so personally rewarded because it is like a giant family,” says Bert. “The staff is like a family. Customers are like family as well. Combining that with the personal reward from the charities, that is what drives us.”
For more information about The Diamond Galleria, call 812-477-1388 or visit thediamondgalleria.com.