Camilla Dietz Bergeron, a Vanderbilt University alumna and emerita trustee whose passion for collecting jewelry led to her founding a noted antique, period and estate jewelry firm, died May 20 after a long illness. She was 76.
Bergeron was president of Camilla Dietz Bergeron Ltd., a New York-based purveyor of fine antique, period and estate jewelry. She also was a longtime Vanderbilt supporter whose many contributions included the establishment of a scholarship for men’s basketball student athletes. Bergeron was born in Covington, Georgia, on March 11, 1942, to the late Harry and Iola Parker Dietz.
She majored in economics in the College of Arts and Science, where she earned a bachelor of arts in 1964. After graduation, she then moved to New York City to enroll at New York University for a master’s degree. Her first job in the financial world was as a security analyst for Chase Manhattan Bank. She then went to work at Seiden and de Cuevas as a security analyst and institutional salesman.
In 1973 she became a founding partner of Furman, Selz, Mager, Dietz, and Birney Inc., which specialized in funding small- and medium-sized growth companies. The firm was sold to Xerox in 1987. Two years later she founded Camilla Dietz Bergeron Ltd. with her business partner, Gus Davis, building a niche company that deals in antique, period and estate jewelry. On the company’s website, she talked about the importance of exceeding her clients’ expectations: “I love to search for that one-of-a-kind piece—the pearl in the oyster. Chic isn’t some kind of formula; chic just is.”
Bergeron was a former executive board member and president of the American Society of Jewelry Historians. She taught at an annual jewelry and gemstone conference on Long Island and lectured frequently for museums and other organizations on jewelry and other business topics, including at the Nashville Antique and Garden Show.
Bergeron served on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust from 1989 to 2014, when she was elected emerita trustee. She was a former president of the New York Vanderbilt Club. In addition, Bergeron previously served on the Owen Graduate School of Management Committee of Visitors and was a member of the Vanderbilt College Cabinet.
She was active in a number of professional organizations, including The Committee of 200 Foundation and the Bard Graduate College for the Decorative Arts.
She is survived by her husband, Jean Maurice Georges Bergeron; her sister, Harriet Nunnally; Gus Davis, her devoted friend and partner in business; and two goddaughters.
A celebration of Bergeron’s life will be announced later.