‘Subway Alumni’ exhibit passion for Notre Dame through national jewelry store
Nicole Simon | Monday, September 3, 2018
“Subway Alumni” is a term that refers to those dedicated Notre Dame fans who possess strong allegiance to the University despite not having attended the school. Two proud Subway Alumni, Charlotte and David Putnam, have turned their passion for Notre Dame into a national jewelry company.
The couple founded Alamo City Gold and Silver Exchange, a small full-line jewelry store, in 1984 and later added a Notre Dame sector to their San Antonio-based company. They sold their line of Notre Dame jewelry through the Alumni Association for several years and have since received a national grant in order to sell directly to the public.
Though neither Charlotte nor David Putnam have a direct connection to the school, Charlotte’s brother is a graduate of the University, as are his children. The Putnams were introduced to the Notre Dame family through their own family and said they have loved the University ever since.
For Charlotte, the idea of combining her two passions — jewelry and Notre Dame — didn’t occur to her until a Notre Dame football tailgate in 2007. She and David designed a personal piece for her to wear to the game, where it received much attention from their friends and fellow fans.
“We are a small jewelry store in San Antonio,” Charlotte said. “We were doing jewelry and I thought to myself, ‘Why am I not doing Notre Dame jewelry? Why am I not wearing Notre Dame jewelry? We have a jewelry store.’”
Making jewelry for Notre Dame introduced the Putnams to the Notre Dame community in a way they otherwise never would have known, Charlotte said.
“We missed being so connected with Notre Dame people,” she said. “The customers were awesome, the Notre Dame people that we met and got to know and became friends with [too]. In fact, we met a customer who wanted to meet us at the game this weekend, so at the tailgate, he came up because he loved his ring so much he wanted to meet us in person.”
The Putnams make jewelry for more than just fans, however. They have worked closely with several different departments on campus to make jewelry for some of Notre Dame’s “finest,” including Muffet McGraw, Jack Swarbrick and Brian Kelly.
“We became very good friends with the people in the Alumni Association itself — it connected us with different departments,” Charlotte said. “I felt like I was just an outsider. So now that we have been doing it for several years, I feel like I’m tied to the University. I feel like I’m a part of it. It’s such a great feeling.”
Working closely with the University has helped her understand and appreciate the family of Notre Dame like any other Domer, Charlotte said.
“We’ve had people who have yelled across the campus and said, ‘Hey, Jewelry People,’” she said. “They call us the ‘Jewelry People,’ and I love it. When I walk on campus, I feel like a part of it, and that means so much to me. I always wanted a connection, but I didn’t know how I’d be connected. And in this way, I am.”
Charlotte said that her growing connection with Notre Dame has only increased her love for the University.
“Everybody that knows me knows that I love Notre Dame,” she said. “My heart is at Notre Dame. I just love Notre Dame so much, so it’s easy to design and make jewelry when you love something and when you’re passionate about it.”
That strong sense of passion comes with an overwhelming sense of pride, a sense that Charlotte said she hopes to share with everyone who wears her jewelry.
“Because we do the jewelry, and it’s so important that we represent the University in a classy way, in a way that shows what type of University it is,” Charlotte said. “It means a lot to me. It makes me proud that I’m making Notre Dame jewelry. We want things that people can be proud to wear. I want you out there, I want you showing it off because you’re proud to be Notre Dame. You want to wear that and show people you are ND. And that’s important to me.”