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Alex and Ani's Charmed Life

A jeweler’s exploding sales are funding new brand extensions
Alex and Ani's Charmed Life
Photograph by Joanna McClure for Bloomberg Businessweek

Carolyn Rafaelian, founder and chief executive officer of jewelry maker Alex and Ani, runs a multimillion-dollar company, but she sounds a lot like a New Age guru. “One thing about the brand is that it’s been created as a way for individuals to express spirituality,” she says. “We all want to learn about ourselves, but we very seldom take the time out to think about what makes us tick. When you come to the store or go to our website, it’s a place that encourages you to answer that question.”

Alex and Ani, named after Rafaelian’s daughters, sells its charm bracelets at its own 41 shops and upscale stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. They are also available at Major League Baseball stadiums and Walt Disney theme parks. The company’s marketing, including a 30-second spot that aired during this year’s Super Bowl, invokes the Oprah-era conviction in the power of positive thinking, along with the glory days of American manufacturing. Alex and Ani’s bangles and charms are made in Cranston, R.I., from recycled brass. The bracelets, which are marketed with printed cards bearing a mantra—one reads “Share prosperity”—retail for as little as $28, making them affordable gifts for a bridesmaid or sorority sister. Trendsetting celebrities, including Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift, have been photographed wearing them by the armful.