“I have literally learned the jewelry industry from the bottom up,” wrote Rachel L. Rafaelian in her 40 Under Forty application, noting that she spent her childhood watching and learning from her grandfather, Ralph Rafaelian, and aunt, Carolyn Rafaelian, both jewelry designers.
Now 25, Rafaelian has worked her way up in the family jewelry business, Alex and Ani Inc., to her current position as head designer of the Vintage Sixty-Six line and senior buyer for the company’s six retail locations.
Rafaelian draws on her grandfather’s influence for the Vintage Sixty-Six line, which uses vintage materials and is inspired by his jewelry designs from 1966, when he opened a jewelry factory in Rhode Island.
Rafaelian attended Sacred Heart University’s John F. Welch College of Business in Fairfield, Conn., but she returned to Rhode Island right after earning her degree in business administration in 2008 to join the family business.
Most recently, Rafaelian oversaw the opening and management of Alex and Ani’s first Newport store. At all six Alex and Ani locations, Rafaelian manages merchandise purchases and tracks inventory levels.
Rafaelian works closely with Alex and Ani’s charity initiatives and partnerships. After Rafaelian organized a night of shopping at the Newport store in which all proceeds were directed to a chosen charity, the company held similar events at its other five locations. Rafaelian and her aunt also collaborate on designing jewelry products for specific charities, with all proceeds from those sales directed toward the organization.
“Our partnerships with these amazing organizations allow us to take our company successes and turn them into something much bigger,” Rafaelian said. •