Alex and Ani creator and designer Carolyn Rafaelian was born into a family of jewelry makers. She grew up in Rhode Island, often deemed as the jewelry capitol of the world, where she spent much of her childhood in her father’s jewelry-making factory.
After attending both the University of Rhode Island and the American College in London, Rafaelian returned to her family’s massive archives of vintage stones, Swarovski crystals, and unique castings dating back to the 1940s to brilliantly create her modern creations which unpretentiously mixes downtown hip with uptown elegance.
The name of the line, Alex and Ani, comes from a combination of the designer’s two daughters’ names, but the inspiration behind the line comes from a wide mix of things – everything from Lynrd Skynrd to spiritual medallions from Southeast Asia. Perhaps the best-known item from the line is her signature expandable wire bangle.
Rafaelian uses a patented and completely innovative technology that replaces the conventional clasp with a sliding device, making each piece adjustable and customizable for a perfect fit. And of course, there’s a celebrity tie-in. When Gweneth Paltrow gave birth to her daughter Apple, Rafaelian sent her the Apple necklace, made of emerald-and-aqua-colored Swarovski rhinestones, from the Apple collection she had just launched.
Since then, the entire Apple line “just sells out,” Rafaelian says. Well, with a connection like that what else would it do?!