Cole was a prolific potter with many current day Seagrove potters claiming her as an influence. She was the daughter of J.B. Cole and a sister to Waymon Cole. She married Philmore Graves and owned Graves Candle Shop as well as J.B. Cole Pottery (now closed), which was located south of Seagrove in Moore County near the Randolph & Montgomery County lines. She died in the late 1990s and was buried in the old Fairgrove Church Cemetery behind Graves Candle Shop, now Holly Hill Pottery (owned by a Cole protege Richard Gillson) located along NC Highway 705 about one mile south of the Seagrove Town limits.
Nell Cole Graves died from a stroke at the age of 88.