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Jeweler targets rings of grime

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 05. 2013 3:42AM

David Bellman tests bacteria count on a diamond engagement ring at his Manchester jewlery shop on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER -- Dirtier than a public toilet seat.

That bacteria-coated ring you're wearing on your finger probably is, according to jeweler David Bellman.

The co-owner of Bellman Jewelers conducted a little detective work, finding bacteria levels he measured on a public toilet seat were lower than those taken from rings that women volunteered to be tested at a recent Manchester trade show.

"The only reason I did the toilet seat was to put things in perspective," Bellman said at his Elm Street office last week. "People would wash their hands (at the sink), but of course the jewelry itself is not getting clean."

That led to his pitch on selling his 7-by-4-inch jewelry-washing invention that locks and keeps jewelry safe while running it in the dishwasher alongside cups and plates. It marks the third generation of an invention he first sold in the early '90s.

Combined, the first two versions, called AquaSonic, sold "well over 50,000 units" with help on QVC and the Home Shopping Network.

But now, Bellman - and his company, DHB Ventures Group - is looking to cash in further as more people focus on battling germs.

He plans for his newest version - renamed AquaSonic Wave with a stronger lock and a section of metal mesh added to help with the water flow - to hit the market in February with a price tag of somewhere around $50.

Could the third time be the charm?

"In the first 24 months, I think we can do $50 million in retail," Bellman said.

He said there are 80 million or more dishwashers in the United States.

"I'm the only one with a solution right now," Bellman said.

More homes with diamonds in the dishwasher.

Bellman teamed up with Bedford inventor Dean Kamen's Manchester company, DEKA Research and Development, to help redesign his invention, which comes with special antibiotic soap.

"To support local businessman David Bellman, Dean agreed to let a few DEKA engineers support David's effort to develop a new version of the AquaSonic" jewelry cleaner, Sarah Musiker, chief of staff at DEKA, said in an email.

"DEKA redesigned David's original concept, including creating and testing numerous prototypes. DEKA does not disclose the specifics of its business arrangements, but DEKA has pledged to give any royalties it receives to FIRST (For Inspiration

and Recognition of Science and Technology), and David has generously announced that he will donate a portion of his proceeds to FIRST," Musiker wrote.

DEKA will receive a "nominal" royalty for its work, Bellman said.

He is trying to raise $90,000 on Kickstarter by Nov. 4, enough to pay for the molds needed to make the product as well as to manufacture the first 2,000 units in China, according to Bellman. Making them in the United States would be about three times the cost, he said.

Seventy backers on Kickstarter pledged nearly $3,400 as of Friday.

Or he will need to enlist investors, which might not be difficult since people already have approached him.

Bellman hopes hospitals also will be among those purchasing his product in an effort to reduce illness spread by bacteria.

Manchester City Health Director Tim Soucy said bacteria-spread illnesses can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a fever. "Everything you don't want," Soucy said.

The city's food code "is pretty specific that when preparing food, employees should not wear jewelry except for a plain wedding band," he said.

"Certainly, jewelry can serve as a vector to transmit bacteria from the hand to the food being prepared," he said.

"The second thing is there still is the provision you can't touch ready-to-eat foods unless you have gloves on.

"Why? If somebody is making a salad, or someone is making a sandwich that isn't going to receive heat treatment, then you can't have bare hand-contact with the product. That is to avoid the transmission of bacteria from one's hand to the food being prepared."

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