Capitalizing on Rhode Island’s cadre of skilled jewelry workers, Tiffany & Co., one of the country’s noted fine jewelry manufacturers, has opened a new manufacturing plant in Warwick.
The move will create 50 new jobs, but the company expects to expand further within the state, officials said.
The new site, located at 1 International Way, off Jefferson Boulevard, was selected in part because of its proximity to Route 95, said John C. Orrico, Tiffany’s vice president of manufacturing. But the larger reason was the ease in which the company would be able to hire the skilled labor, he said.
“Rhode Island became a very, very easy choice,” Orrico said.
Orrico added that Tiffany had considered other states, but settled on Rhode Island because of its labor pool and because of its infrastructure and support services — such as supply houses — which allow it to operate without growing vertically. Once it settled on Rhode Island, the company considered more than 20 communities before deciding on Warwick.
The plant’s proximity to Providence enables it to draw talent from the city easily, he noted. The new factory — which employs 10 now but will employ 50 by year’s end — will produce silver jewelry and “fancy” goods, such as silver key rings. All of its goods will be trucked to a distributing center in Parsippany, N.J., where they will then be directed to Tiffany retailers.
Besides jewelry, Tiffany — established in 1837 — makes china, watches, locks, stationery, writing instruments, and fragrances. It also makes items such as Super Bowl and National Basketball Association championship trophies. This is the company’s third jewelry manufacturing plant. It has a plant located above the Tiffany’s store at Fifth Avenue at 57th St. in New York City that employs 40 people and produces high-end “statement” jewelry. Its largest manufacturing plant is in Westchester, N.Y. which produces gold and platinum goods.
Barbara Laniglia, economic development director for the city of Warwick, said she first learned that Tiffany was considering Warwick seriously about seven or eight months ago. Warwick Mayor Lincoln Chafee said he hopes the arrival of Tiffany will spur other manufacturing companies to invest in the city as well.
John Swen, executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp., said the opening of Tiffany is an opportunity for the state to rebuild its jewelry manufacturing base that eroded in recent years.
“The jewelry business has not fared well in the last couple of decades,” Swen said, adding that the opening of Tiffany, “shows how competitive you can be, even with the overseas competition.”
Gov. Lincoln Almond praised the workers who have already been hired at the new plant, saying they are the reason Tiffany opted for Rhode Island over other states.
“The work you do every day has created your jobs,” he told workers in a speech during a recent visit to the plant. “Be proud of that.”