Carolyn Rafaelian, founder and ceo of Alex and Ani.


Alex and Ani founder and chief executive officer Carolyn Rafaelian has nabbed her first magazine cover — and it’s for a much coveted reason.

Rafaelian is one of two new billionaires to make Forbes’ Richest Self-Made Women list. (Eren Ozmen of Sierra Nevada Corp., a aerospace and defense contractor, was the other and ranked 16.)

The third annual list, which features 60 billionaires with a net worth of $61.5 billion, is part of Forbes’ themed June 13 issue. According to Forbes, Rafaelian is “now America’s richest jeweler,” and her brand is valued at more than $1 billion, which landed her at number 18. Last year, the executive was ranked 22nd with a net worth of $700 million.

“I’m honored and grateful to receive this recognition from Forbes. My path has been blessed with opportunities and people willing to share their talents to create something truly special.  There is more to come,” Rafaelian told WWD. “I am living proof that the American dream is still alive and well; this time it’s through the eyes of the feminine and all the magic that follows that journey.”

With the death of her husband, Mike Ilitch, in February 2017, Marian Ilitch, who owns the Little Caesars pizza chain and Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel, along with other investments, nabbed the top spot with her $5.1 billion fortune. Drilling into the media, technology and fashion space, Oprah Winfrey, worth $2.9 billion, slid to third place from second last year when she was worth $3.1 billion. Gap’s Doris Fisher came in fifth with $2.7 billion, followed by tech chief executive officer Meg Whitman, whose wealth from eBay and now Hewlett-Packard is estimated at $2.5 billion. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg ranked 12th with $1.6 billion, while Forever 21 cofounder Jin Sook Chang ranked 14th with $1.5 billion. Spanx founder and ceo Sara Blakely just made the billionaire’s club with $1.1 billion and tied for a ranking of 16th.

Jeweler Kendra Scott, who was ranked 36th with $500 million, was new to the list. Meanwhile, notable dropoffs included Jessica Alba, Kathy Ireland, Sophia Amoruso and Vera Bradley‘s Barbara Bradley Baekgaard.

According to Forbes, 27 percent of the top 60 richest self-made women came from the fashion/ retail space, while 18 percent worked in tech and 17 percent in media. Below is the top 10. The full list can be found here.

Rank Name Final Worth (in billions) Change vs. 2016 Origin of Wealth
1 Marian Ilitch $5,100 Up Little Caesars
2 Diane Hendricks $4,900 Even ABC Supply
3 Judy Love $2,900 Up Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores
3 Oprah Winfrey $2,900 Down OWN cable network
5 Doris Fisher $2,700 Up Gap
6 Judy Faulkner $2,500 Up Epic Systems
6 Meg Whitman $2,500 Up eBay
8 Johnelle Hunt $2,400 Up J.B. Hunt Transport Services
9 Elaine Wynn $2,100 Up Wynn Resorts
10 Lynda Resnick $2,000 Even The Wonderful Company
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