LOCKED IN: Marcos Fountoulakis, president and CEO of Johnston-based Dama, is currently overseeing the introduction of LuxLock, an innovative earring back-and-post system resulting from years of research and development.
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
By Rhonda Miller PBN Staff Writer
Rhode Island is still a good place for innovation and expansion in the jewelry industry, said Marcos Fountoulakis, president and CEO of Johnston-based Dama.
The company, which designs and manufactures quality jewelry components, produces about 1.2 billion pieces a year and has continued to remain competitive by investing in state-of-the-art, high-speed equipment, said Fountoulakis.
Dama’s new product, LuxLock, was introduced in April. It is an innovative earring back-and-post system resulting from years of research and development that Fountoulakis began with a patent in 1982 that used base metal. He’s modified that patent and the new LuxLock product uses 14-karat gold.
“The exciting thing is we have partnered with LeachGarner and they have tremendous distribution,” Fountoulakis said. “They manufacture the gold we use. They have their own mill in South Attleboro and they have manufacturing facilities around the world.”
The new earring back is expected to have a solid market because many of the products commonly used have flaws, he said.
“Many times earring backs get very loose or they go on sideways or the earring isn’t straight on the earlobe. So it’s not secure and women lose their earrings,” said Fountoulakis. “The earrings often have a sentimental value. They may be a gift from a husband or boyfriend.”
The LuxLock has a clutch that holds the post straight and a plastic disc that keeps the earring straight on the earlobe.
“Using gold is very expensive. That’s another reason I’m excited to partner with LeachGarner. They’re able to finance the gold that is needed,” said Fountoulakis. “You need a lot of material for the process. Only 30 percent of what we use is going to be the end product. The rest is sent back to them and reused.”
Manufacturing the new LuxLock will add four-to-five jobs for skilled workers, he said.
Dama, which means “lady” in Italian and Spanish, expects to hire local workers to fill the new positions that will add to the current 27 employees, he said.
“I believe we can find the expertise here because there are still some jewelry companies here and still some people who have that experience,” he said.