Tiffany & Co. to add 75 jobs at Lexington plant

bfortune@herald-leader.comApril 25, 2013 

Richard Rogers set a diamond in the Classic 6-Prong Tiffany Setting in theTiffany & Co.'s new Lexington jewelry manufacturing center, 2445 Innovation Dr. in Lexington, Ky.,Tuesday, September 27, 2011. A formal ribbon cutting ceremony was held today. Among the dignitaries were Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Lex. Mayor Jim Gray and Tiffany & Co. CEO Michael Kowalski. Following the ribbon cutting, the guest were given a tour of the center. Charles Bertram | Staff

CHARLES BERTRAM

Tiffany & Co. announced Thursday that it is adding 75 jobs at its Lexington manufacturing plant, which produces Tiffany's classic six-prong engagement ring and other pieces of fine jewelry.

Some of the jobs — predominately jeweler jobs — will involve setting stones and polishing jewelry, but moving part of Tiffany's jewelry-repair service to Lexington is a big part of the expansion, said John Petterson, senior vice president of manufacturing and operations.

The announcement was made at a news conference Thursday morning at Tiffany's manufacturing plant on Innovation Drive in the Blue Grass Business Park in northern Fayette County.

All repair orders from Tiffany stores around the world are funneled through a Tiffany plant in the New York borough of Queens. "A lot of the repair work is done there, but then we also farm it out to other parts of the organization. Now much of that will be farmed out here in Lexington as we grow this operation," Petterson said.

Tiffany's 25,000-square-foot plant in Lexington has space to accommodate the expanding workforce, Petterson said. The company is looking into the possibility of adding a second shift.

Thursday's announcement related only to jobs, but Petterson said the Tiffany building on 4 acres in the business park could be expanded.

"If we keep going in the direction we're going, we'll have to add on, sooner or later," he said.

Architectural plans to double the size of the current building, if that should be needed, have been completed, Petterson said.

The luxury jewelry maker opened its Lexington plant in September 2011. It is Tiffany's first manufacturing plant outside the Northeast. It employs 125 people.

More than 60 percent of Tiffany's jewelry is made in the United States. Petterson said the company's goal is to increase that percentage.

In welcoming the additional jobs, Mayor Jim Gray said, "April has rained down good jobs on Lexington and the Bluegrass."

Recently, the Bingham McCutchen law firm opened with 250 jobs; Transposagen announced a new laboratory downtown with 15 jobs; and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in Georgetown unveiled plans to move a new Lexus production line to the Bluegrass, adding 750 jobs. That brings the total to 1,090 jobs. It does not include the 150 jobs that the 21C Museum Hotel is expected to bring when it opens in 2014, the mayor said.

Gray said that in 2012, Lexington returned to its pre-recession labor force, with the largest number of jobs since 2008.

Gray said that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from January 2011 to the end of 2012 the number of employed people grew by 10,429 in Fayette County.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who was present for the Tiffany announcement, said since an overhaul of the state's tax incentive program for businesses, 545 companies have opened in the state, with a total investment of about $6 billion.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251.Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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