“It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you give away:” Joe Pacetti on giving back to the community

To whom much is given, much is expected, as the age-old saying holds. While some people prefer to use their earnings to live a lavish lifestyle, others prefer to use their privilege to help others. Such is the case for Joe Pacetti, owner of J. Pacetti Precious Jewels, one of Dallas’s best-kept secrets. With the earnings he has acquired throughout his decades in the jewelry business, Pacetti has been a long-time supporter of multiple charities across the world.

I speak with Pacetti in his appointment-exclusive store on a Friday afternoon, a day before the annual DIFFA fashion show. Pacetti has been a long-time supporter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.

“I was asked about 26 years ago to get involved with DIFFA,” Pacetti says. “I was approached to design a jacket. That was back when Levi Strauss was giving us the blue jean denim jackets. Back then, you could get a denim jacket for 200 or 300 dollars, and that was considered a bargain.”

Although DIFFA is a nationally renowned charity, Dallas’s chapter holds a special place in Pacetti’s heart.

“The Dallas chapter has always been the most prolific, in terms of raising money,” Pacetti says. “I’ve been playing the same role I’ve played all along. I’ve just been a supporter. I’ve sat on the board for many years, but my job doesn’t allow me the opportunity to attend board meetings. It’s easier for me to write a check than it is for me to attend all the board meetings.”

Photo courtesy of Joe Pacetti

Every year, Pacetti makes a contribution towards DIFFA, one of the many charities he has outspokenly supported over the years.

As someone who built himself from the ground up, Pacetti is a proprietor who truly understands the value of hard work.

“I’ve always loved jewelry,” Pacetti says. “I grew up in a family where we didn’t have jewelry, but I’ve always admired it. My first job was in a barbershop as a shoeshine boy at age 13. When I would get paid, I would spend my earnings on jewelry for myself.”

Pacetti continued to work hard and over the years, purchased more jewelry for himself.

“By the time I was 16, I was a waiter, and I bought myself my first gold and diamond watch from Omega,” Pacetti says.

Pacetti’s affinity to jewelry continued to flourish into his young adulthood.

“I dated a girl whose family was quite privileged,” Pacetti says.  “The mother always wore nice jewelry and I would compliment her on it. One time, she told me ‘you’re majoring in marketing, and you should be selling jewelry once you finish college.’”

At the time, Pacetti wasn’t sure if this was the path he wanted to follow. He had always had an admiration for jewelry, however, he didn’t know much in regards to the science behind precious jewels. He took courses in Gemology at the suggestion of his then-girlfriend’s mother. He later went on to receive his associate’s degree from a junior college in Tulsa. He later went on to pursue a career in jewelry sales.

Photo courtesy of Joe Pacetti

“I went to Dallas from my hometown of Tulsa,” Pacetti says. “I met with a man named Leo Fields, who was the senior VP of Zales. He hired me to run the store in Tulsa. I worked there for two years and I made a record sale. The average sale was $800 and I made a $43,000 sale for them in 1979.”

Despite this record sale, Pacetti did not receive any form of additional compensation, resulting in his frustration.

When I asked for a commision, my superior told me that that wasn’t in their pay structure,” Pacetti says. “I said if I didn’t get something, I was going to leave. He told me he was sorry to hear that. Then I left, with my little green plastic box of contacts, and no money.”

While this may seem like a risky move, Pacetti was confident in the process. He used the contacts he had acquired during his time at Zales and began to develop a sales strategy.

“I called about six vendors that we dealt with and told them ‘I’m the one who sold you your aquamarine ring’ or ‘I’m the one who sold you your emerald earrings,” Pacetti says. I’d ask ‘Would you send me one or two pieces on consignment to work with? If I sell it, I’ll pay you, but if I don’t, I’ll send them back.’”

At 22, Pacetti had launched his own jewelry business, however, his decades in the game have not come without challenge.

“Having an inventory of jewelry is a lot more difficult to have than seeds for plants,” Pacetti says. “I don’t know what to compare it to, but it can add up very quickly. I didn’t have parents who could fund me and I didn’t have an inheritance to fall back on. I had to prove myself in the business. I had to prove that I was reliable, capable, and responsible.”

Photo courtesy of Joe Pacetti

Pacetti has since proven himself, having served a wide variety of clientele with specific wants and needs.

“I have a different type of clientele,” Pacetti says. “Most of my clientele are people that want jewelry. They don’t necessarily buy it for anniversaries or birthdays.”

While Pacetti has grown a financially privileged customer base, he still believes in the moral obligation of using what he’s earned to help others.

“I’m a big supporter of my church, Cathedral of Hope,” Pacetti says. “I also support The Resource Center of Dallas. Part of our obligation in life is to give to others. I’m really happy to give to various organizations and I am blessed to be able to have the resources to help others.”

Pacetti, understanding that not everyone has the resources he has afforded, reinforces that people don’t have to give money or material things for their contributions to be worthwhile.

“Giving doesn’t have to involve money,” Pacetti says.  “You can give your time, and you can give your knowledge. It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you give away.”

Even given his hard-earned possessions, home, and lifestyle, Pacetti never strays away from the values that made him who he is today.

“I probably couldn’t live without a cross,” Pacetti says. “I’ve worn crosses since my early teens. When I see the cross, it reminds me of what life’s all about.”