Longtime entertainment director Tom Leonardis saw something missing in the wedding world and found a way to fix it. He came with Gámos, a brand of genderless engagement rings that interlock with a wedding ring. Handcrafted in New York City, each piece is made to order and remains affordable. Leonardo tells The Daily how he came up with the idea and what sets these rings apart.

Tell me a bit about your background!
I wanted to be a doctor. I was a really smart kid. I grew up in New Jersey and went from middle class to poor class so I couldn’t afford to go to a good school. I went to Montclair State, which is now a university, and floundered for three years because there was no biology department. Then I met these theater students, and a friend of mine had these communication books and I thought, “Oh, that’s kind of interesting. And so I went to the dean and said, “I can do this major in a year,” and he said, “No, you can’t,” but I did. I succeeded in everything.

How did the entertainment come to strike?
My friend then did an internship at CBS when he only accepted three interns from the entire tri-state area. He did the internship and I had the same internship the following year. I had bought a home on Bleecker Street, and moved from there to [being a] producer for VH1 right out of school. Then I met this guy in Provincetown. We had been together for about three weeks, and I decided I was going to give it all up and move to Laguna Beach with him. And I did. We have been together for five years. But when I got to Laguna Beach my boss from VH1 called and she said, “I need you to come in as a talent coordinator. And I said, ‘What is it?’ And she said, “Well, you work with celebrities. I was not a kid involved in pop culture. I like to read medical books and stuff. She said, ‘That’s why you’re going to be good at it.’

What was the show?
The Arsène room [talk show} where I was for five years working in talent. I was working on the Paramount lot, and Whoopi [Goldberg’s} assistant Ron [Holder] was like the mayor of the lot. Whoopi was Hollywood’s highest-paid actress at the time and she had a bungalow on the lot. I was young and cute and his assistant was saying hello to me. When you’re on a show like that, you’re right on that wheel. And, when I needed a place to get away from it all, I would go talk to Ron and he became one of my best friends. He had come down to Laguna Beach and was hanging out with my boyfriend and me. Ron was HIV positive and started to get really, really sick. He said: “You are the only one I can recommend for this job”. And I said, you know, I turned down an assistant job for another interpreter. Whoopi called me and said, ‘You know Ron doesn’t have a family. If you could just come and help me and help Ron… ‘I really, really didn’t want to work for her. But I did and now it’s 25 years later!

How has your role evolved?
She kept giving me more and more. Then we started to produce together. And then we had Strong medicine on Lifetime for six years, and we were starting a business. Now I run everything in the world of Whoopi. I am currently producing four films including Sister Act 3. The universe gives you what you need, doesn’t it? And maybe I’m good at what I do because I don’t care about fame. So that’s how I got here in a weird way. You know, again, the simple kid. I flew on the Concorde, met the Queen, had tea with Harry at Kensington Palace, and been to White House steak dinners. I pinch myself. Every day I thank the universe.

Now you step into another world with the creation of Gámos. How did you get the idea?
One of the partners is my friend Woodie Neiss, who is a great entrepreneur. One day I went to Facebook and there was Woodie holding his hand with a wedding ring. I called him, I said, “Damn, you got married and didn’t tell me?” He said, ‘No, I’m engaged.’ And I said, ‘I don’t understand.’ He said, ‘Well, neither do we. We didn’t know what to do. So we bought these rings for $ 25 because we wanted something to be a symbol. But now we’ve invested so much in these rings, haven’t we? Because it’s like, they mean so much that we don’t know what we’re going to do when we get married. I said, ‘Woody, I want to make a ring..I want to make a ring that looks a bit like this, but it locks into the wedding ring because I don’t think men are going to wear two rings. I don’t think they’ll be wearing an engagement ring and wedding ring. But what if we create this and lock them together? The engagement ring becomes the wedding ring. ‘ And so he said, ‘Well, you know, I know the business. I can take care of the commercial part. And then I asked my cousin, Elisa [Melegari], who is a jeweler. She made this bracelet for Whoopi. It’s incredible. I went to Elisa and said, ‘I want to make this ring, and you can do it for me.’ She did it.

Why is it called Gámos?
It means “marriage” in Greek, so it was perfect. And Vída means “to twist” in Greek, and Syndéo means “to insert”. Everything is organic to the Greek language. So, the second ring, where you insert the engagement ring in the wedding ring, you can, if you want, add black diamonds. Why should women only [wear them]? Why should women only show their commitment at the time of engagement? Why isn’t everyone wearing an engagement ring? Men should have engagement rings! And the fact that they marry the covenant, then it becomes one, solves the problem. This is your design. If you want rose gold, or if you want some kind of [engraving], we succeed [fit] you. They are personalized because it’s your future, it’s your love, it’s your journey.

How can people get them?
They are all handcrafted. If you wanted one and you’re in New York, we would come to you. But if you are sitting in Omaha, we send you [it]. You can’t walk into a jeweler and be sized because of their technology. We send you a kit and you size it on your finger, or that of your boyfriend, girlfriend or whoever you marry. And then we custom build it for you. The Syndéo is different because you can go to the jeweler and find out the size. But we want it to be personal. We want to communicate with you.


How much do rings cost?
They start at $ 1,400. and remember you get two rings. You get an engagement ring and a wedding ring. But the lowest price is around $ 1400, then they can go up if you want diamonds. But we’re definitely not at $ 15,000 — we’re not even close. You can get all the bells and whistles for a few thousand dollars.


What has been the most surprising thing about this process for you so far?
I’m not surprised that we have a lot of good feedback. The most surprising thing for me is to try to do the construction. I’m used to fast. I know how to build something. I know the advertising. I can move this mountain and I know how the advertising wheel moves. I’m learning to do this with something that doesn’t exist. I don’t mean I have a good idea, but I think everyone thinks they are having a beautiful baby.

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