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Posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Alaska is only the second market being developed by a jewelry company that has constructed a three-story building downtown.

Rachat and Romero, which has eight outlets in Mexico, hopes to open its Juneau outlet at 259 S. Franklin next week, said general manager Ed Darragh.

The company, registered in the state as Alaska Gem Co., sells high-end stones, loose and mounted, and does not deal in watches and other common gift items, said Darragh. ``We look the part,'' he said of the new building, which has a 2,000-square-foot sales floor.

The building includes two three-bedroom townhouses and an efficiency apartment, all of which probably will be used by company employees, he said. But he hopes to hire almost all locals. Peak employment is estimated at 15, including some part-time positions.

``At the moment, I am seriously trying to stay open for more than just the season,'' said Darragh, who just moved from the Gettysburg, Pa., area to Juneau. ``We'll probably close for the dead of winter. One thing that's important to us is that we're good citizens of the community -- good corporate citizens.''

Rachat and Romero currently operates near Cancun on Isla Mujeres (``island of the women'') and in Cozumel. Darragh, who was retired, said he is a former chief financial officer of ``a major organization'' he didn't name, a certified public accountant and a former college instructor.

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