A few years ago, a brassy Alex & Ani charm bracelet arrived in my office mail. Instead of squealing with glee, I pushed it over to the far right corner of my desk, where it sat for months buried under a ton of fashion glossies and newspapers.
Eventually, it ended up in the donation pile.
Though I'm grateful a person in need was the likely recipient of that good-vibe bauble, I can't help but think: "Elizabeth, that was a dummy move."
That's because Alex & Ani's spiritual, eco-friendly trinkets — especially the now-classic bangle — are seemingly everywhere.
The Alex & Ani brand is the brainchild of Rhode Island jeweler Carolyn Rafaelian, who put the first version of the expandable wire bangle out into the ethos in 2004. Back then, the industry was at the beginning of the meaningful jewelry trend, so Rafaelian's Alex & Ani brand, along with Me & Ro and Sydney Evan, were specializing in metallic trinkets that were pretty, dainty, and, according to designers, teeming with good energy.
With each passing year, Alex & Ani picked up stylish steam. Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom began selling them. And celebrities from Beyoncé to Selena Gomez to Chelsea Handler to "One Funny Mother" Dena Blizzard became fans.
In this way, Rafaelian was able to turn her charm bracelets — the collection has expanded to include all manner of feel-good pieces, including necklaces, earrings, and pendants — into a $500 million business that earned Rafaelian the 18th spot on this year's Forbes list of America's Richest Self-Made Women.
They can be worn individually but are meant to be stacked and layered to create a personal fashion statement. (You know how we love our cookie-cutter individuality.) The whole idea is to create a story through the charms.
Despite their seemingly ubiquitous nature, it's been tough to find a great selection in Philadelphia. Rumor has it that a deal to open a stand-alone Alex & Ani store at 17th and Sansom Streets fell through a few years ago. But on Thursday, the brand opened a specialty store at the King of Prussia Mall. Perfect timing for Christmas.