Elvis’ longtime jeweler recalls stories of the singer’s generosity

Lowell Hays is a judge for the Tupelo Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest

TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Tupelo’s Elvis Festival is in its fourth day, and one of the special guests helped design the bling that Elvis wore, and often gave away.

Lowell Hays is back as a judge for Tupelo’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition.

And Hays knows what to look for.  As Elvis’ jeweler, he attended many of the singer’s concerts, always ready, with a briefcase of jewelry.

“I never got tired of standing by the stage and watching him perform,” Hays said.

Hays designed many of Elvis’ best known pieces of jewelry, including, the TCB necklace and ring, He personally delivered the ring to Elvis in the dining room at Graceland.

“I sat down on one side of the table, he sat by me at the head of the table.  Handed him the  ring, he went kind of wild, he said, wow, look at this, said, even Sammy Davis Junior doesn’t have a ring like this, he said wait till I show this to Liberace. He said, I want to do something for you, what would you like?  I said, I’d like that white Lincoln Mark III out front.  He said, it’s yours,” he said.

Hays also designed the famous “Aloha from Hawaii’ ring, Elvis wore, during his 1973 concert, the first concert by a solo artist broadcast worldwide, with an audience of more than one billion people.

Hays remembers Elvis as a generous man, who always wanted to please his fans, like the night in Asheville , North Carolina.

“I was by the stage, he came over and said, ‘Lowell, where’s your case’ I said, here.  He said, ‘put it up here”  I opened it up, he reached in and got something out of it and tore the tag off, put tag in case, that’s how we kept inventory. He went over to the front of stage, gave the ring to somebody, he ended up spending 105 thousand dollars that night, giving away jewelry,” Hays said.

Hays says he is glad to be back as a judge at the Tupelo Elvis Tribute Artist competition.  And while he notices the outfits and jewelry the artists wear, there is one thing he is really listening for.

“The voice, that sounds like Elvis, and it’s really tough,” he said.

Hays says he will always be grateful for his friendship with Elvis, and the many friends he’s made because of his connection to the original American Idol.

Hays sells Elvis themed jewelry through Graceland.  He also designed the jewelry for the upcoming movie, “Elvis.” starring Tom Hanks and Austin Butler.

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