The Working Mother has listed American-Armenian designer Carolyn Rafaelian, a mother of three children, among the 50 Most Powerful Moms of 2017.
“A new addition to Forbes’s Richest Self-Made Women’s list, Carolyn was dubbed leader of the jewelry world with an estimated net worth of $700 million. She was born into the jewelry business, but, initially, working in her parent’s Rhode Island factory served as punishment.
She told DuJour that her Armenian-American parents would send her and her four siblings to “card earrings” when they fell out of line. Eventually, she started designing special talismans for friends, adorned with symbols and saints that offered spiritual protection. Those took off and Alex and Ani was born in 2004—so named for her two oldest daughters.
Carolyn gives back through her Charity by Design division, donating a portion of the proceeds from specially designed charms to more than 50 nonprofits, including March of Dimes, Living Water International and VH-1 Save the Music. Last year, they donated $2 million to UNICEF. When she started the company, she told DuJour she was honest with her then-young kids about what her life as a working woman was like.
“Let’s not forget, we are a strong species,” she said. “I think men have their challenges now, women have their challenges now, but it’s only a challenge if you want it to be a challenge. My father did not treat any of us differently, my brother or his girls. We did what we needed to do, we were all treated the same, and we made what we made out of life.”