The Ocean State – that’s what we are called. We have a wave on our state license plate, we’re known for our clam chowder, we “tawk” funny, and we’re the smallest state in the Unites States. 

But all of this does not stand in comparison to the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean that surrounds us here in Rhode Island. This is a state of great beauty and a destination for vacations year-round (maybe some will argue against the winter season). With the historic Newport Mansions, delicious foods, fall foliage, arts and culture - people flock here from all over the world to experience coastal life.  

In such a beautiful state with so much of nature and history to offer, it might be strange to think that Rhode Island was also once the Jewellery Capital of the World in the 1960’s. Our Founder, CEO, and Chief Creative Officer, Carolyn Rafaelian, was born in Rhode Island, and followed in the footsteps of her grandfather and father in the jewellery manufacturing business. Through the 60’s and 70’s, she spent her time in her father’s factory, learning the process of design, and eventually building her own business in 2004, naming it ALEX AND ANI after her first two daughters.  

This was the foundation and the beginning of the story behind ALEX AND ANI. We are a jewellery brand that creates meaning and connects humanity. We are driven to create a better world through the products created while sharing a passion of our planet and our communities. Since the founding of the company, building special connections with our community and finding ways to build a better future, has been a significant part of our corporate DNA. Carolyn’s father, Ralph, used to tell her “give a bucket and you will receive a waterfall in return.” A simple reminder that one small act of kindness can make a world of difference.  

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, ALEX & ANI

In 2011, a very special collection of products started to take shape, CHARITY BY DESIGN. Each product in this collection donates 20 percent of the purchase price back to a designated charity. It was Carolyn’s way of continuing her father’s legacy and putting his lasting words into practice. In seven years, we’ve partnered with hundreds of organisations, and are so proud to find ourselves surrounded by a beautiful waterfall with $50 million donated to charities across the world.  

Our success, though, is truly not possible without our customers. They believe in our humanitarian mission and are constantly pushing us towards charities that they are passionate about. It is for this reason we have partnered with Ocean Unite. The conversations around ocean conservation have been more prevalent in today’s world than any other time. Social activism is changing how we view our planet and how we call upon organisations to help cultivate change. Now ALEX AND ANI is proud to join forces with Ocean Unite, one of Virgin Unite’s global leadership initiatives working to protect the Ocean, to offer wearable activism.  

We’ve all seen the photos of our polluted ocean and the impact on marine life; forced to swim in our garbage. Living in the Ocean State, we have been a first-hand witness to plastic pollution with trash washing up on our shorelines. Our brand, our employees, and our community are compelled to make a difference.  

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, ALEX & ANI

In June, just in time for World Ocean Day, we will launch the Wave charm and necklace, with 20 percent of the purchase price from each product going back to Ocean Unite. Everyone that wears this charm or necklace should know they are making a difference by creating a larger conversation about the welfare of the ocean, a life force for so many people.  

Additionally, our own employees will continue to act and give back by volunteering their time to clean our beaches from Rhode Island to California. After all, this is our community and it is a matter of pride to keep it clean. Join as we take action to help keep the ocean, our blue backyard, clean and healthy by purchasing your own Wave charm and necklace in support of Ocean Unite.   

- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details. 

This post is part of a series produced by Virgin Unite in partnership with Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action.