Carolyn Rafaelian

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Carolyn Rafaelian
Born1966/1967 (age 52–53)[1]
ResidenceProvidence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Alma materAmerican College in Los Angeles
Known forFounder and 80% owner, Alex and Ani
Net worthUS$520 million (2019)[2]

Carolyn Rafaelian (born 1966) is an American-Armenian entrepreneur and businesswoman. She is the founder of the accessories and jewelry company Alex and Ani,[3] and the owner of the Belcourt of Newport and Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyards.


Rafaelian's father opened a jewelry factory in 1966, in which Rafaelian and her sister worked.[4] Over time she helped her father design pieces and produced original designs herself for her father's jewelry manufacturing company[5] Cinerama. She attended Prout Memorial High School for Girls (later known as The Prout School). She attended the University of Rhode Island between 1987 and 1989, and then she transferred to and graduated from the American College in Los Angeles.[6] In 1994 she joined her father's business, and eventually began to work on her own line. In 2002 Rafaelian became co-owner of Cinerama with her sister. Rafaelian's designs became the main seller for the company,[7] and in 2016 Alex and Ani bought the manufacturing facility for an undisclosed sum.[8]

Business career[edit]

In 2004 Rafaelian founded Alex and Ani, a jewelry line named after her two eldest daughters.[5] The brand started with five cocktail rings and expanded into a full line of jewelry anchored by its patented expandable wire bangle.[7]

Rafaelian has been interviewed by newspapers regarding current events, including the New York Daily News.[9] Rafaelian received the 2012 Rhode Island Small Businessperson of the Year award from the Small Business Administration for her work with Alex and Ani, [10] and also the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year in the products category for New England.[11] Her firm's revenue grew from $5 million in 2010 to over $500 million in 2016 and the company’s Charity By Design initiative, where 20% of sales go to charity, makes up 20% of sales.[12]

Rafaelian owns a cafe franchise called Teas and Javas;[13] some of its cafes are attached to Alex and Ani stores, and some are independent.[14] She is also the owner of the Rhode Island winery Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, purchased in 2012 which features wine making, dining area and locally sourced foods.[15][16][17][18] Since taking over, the vinyard has won a number of awards in international competition.[19][20]

Personal life[edit]

Rafaelian is divorced from her first husband.[21]

Rafaelian is the owner of a 60-room mansion, the Belcourt of Newport, formerly known as Belcourt Castle, in Newport, Rhode Island, built in 1894.[22][23][21]

Rhode Island Monthly described Rafaelian's charitable work as including "Project USA, a nonprofit, which has raised funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, survivors of breast cancer, and endangered species" as well as separate projects with the Humane Society of the United States.[24]

Rafaelian was listed 22nd in Forbes America’s Richest Self-Made Women in 2016, with net worth estimated at $700 million in June 2016.[25] In May 2017, she was recognized by the David Lynch Foundation for her humanitarian efforts.[26] As of June 2018, Rafaelian is estimated to be worth $1 billion, and 18th on the Forbes list of America's richest self-made women, owning 80% of Alex and Ani.[27]


  1. ^ "Carolyn Rafaelian". Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  2. ^ "Bangle Billionaire: How Alex And Ani Founder Carolyn Rafaelian Built An American Jewelry Empire". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  3. ^ Dunn, Laura (21 April 2016). "Women in Business Q&A: Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder, CEO and CCO, Alex and Ani". The Huffington Post.
  4. ^ Tracey Samuelson (2015-04-23). "Rhode Island, hard hit by recession, slow to recover". Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  5. ^ a b Michelle Smith (June 30, 2009). "Interview: Carolyn Rafaelian of Alex and Ani". The Gloss. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "Alex & Ani: A Vital Force in Rhode Island". Quad Angles. Spring 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Leigh Buchanan (April 2013). "The Disciplined and the Divine: An Unlikely Partnership". Inc. Magazine. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  8. ^ "Alex and Ani Buys Rafealian's Cinerama - May be Precursor to a Public Offering". GoLocalProv. 2016-02-06. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  9. ^ Jose Martinez (February 15, 2010). "One-of-a-kind Vancouver Olympic medals get mixed reviews". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  10. ^ "New Bedford-native named Mass. Small Business Person of Year". South Coast Business Bulletin. March 23, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  11. ^ "Rafaelian named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of Year". Providence Business News. June 25, 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  12. ^ "From Sheryl Sandberg To Beyonce: The 60 Richest, Most Successful Self-Made Women In America". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  13. ^ Ohikuare, Judith (May 31, 2013). "Alex and Ani CEO: 'My Job Was to Discourage People'". CEO Magazine. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  14. ^ Philip Eil (September 18, 2013). "It's Alex and Ani's state... ...we only live in it. An in-depth look at the 'positive energy' powerhouse". The Providence Phoenix. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  15. ^ Phillip Silverstone (August 3, 2013). "Wining about the Good Life: The Genius of Wine". Montgomery News. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  16. ^ "Sakonnet wines have won many awards".
  17. ^ "Alex And Ani's Sakonnet Vineyards Purchase Final". Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  18. ^ Murphy, Linda. "Alex and Ani founder making her mark at 'Carolyn's' Sakonnet Vineyards". The Herald News, Fall River, MA. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  19. ^ Aherne, Kevin. "GoLocalProv | Food | Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard Wins Big at Int'l Wine Competition". GoLocalProv. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  20. ^ Editor, Gail Ciampa Journal Food. "R.I. wineries winners at international wine contest". Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  21. ^ a b Penelope Green (September 19, 2013). "Ghosts Be Gone: Belcourt Castle in Newport Gets a Face-Lift". New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  22. ^ Darrell Hofheinz (January 25, 2013). "Rafaelian's new townhouse: Location was key". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  23. ^ Bill Tomison (November 12, 2012). "Alex and Ani owner buys Belcourt Castle". WPRI. Archived from the original on July 19, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  24. ^ Reilly-McGreen, M.E. "Room at the Top: It takes more than a great idea to create a million-dollar business. You need passion, luck and drive, as these highly successful women have learned. Here are their secrets". Rhode Island Monthly. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  25. ^ O'Connor, Clare (3 June 2016). "Alex And Ani's Carolyn Rafaelian Joins Self-Made List As Jewelry's Richest Woman". Forbes.
  26. ^ Asher, Jane (2017-05-10). "Gisele Bundchen Talks the Importance of Meditation". Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  27. ^ "Carolyn Rafaelian". Retrieved 2017-06-19.