Share Tweet Finalist-ACS 2003 - Rafinity Hip, happening, and in-your-face — to match the jewelry! Published 18 years ago on August 1, 2003 By Anna Tyler Instore August 2003 Issue Rafinity, Santa Monica, CA OWNER: Ann Whatu and Raffi Kouyoumjian; DESIGNERS: Ann Whatu; PROJECT COST: “Not telling – but we tripled our overhead!”; ADDRESS: 1408-A Third St. Promenade, Santa Monica, CA; PHONE: (310) 458-3515; DESIGN ADVICE: “If youʼre using a designer, use a restaurant or lounge designer — every jewelry store doesnʼt have to look like a jewelry store. Make it your own, like you are doing your living room. Have fun, and you will be infinitely happy there.” THERE CANʼT BE MANY PEOPLE who turn down the chance for a store location in Beverly Hills, but jewelery designers Ann Whatu and Raffi Kouyoumjian did – and 13 years later theyʼre still overjoyed with their decision. Never a pair to be pigeon-holed, the ex-love-birds (who are now amicably divorced) waited three years for their current Santa Monica location, then acquired the adjacent building and expanded — with a passion. The building which houses Rafinity was once a brothel, built alongside an alley down which visitors could surreptitiously sneak before being admitted into the inner sanctum of West Coast courtesans. Nowadays, the sensual indulgences going on in this space are not so illicit … but just as satisfying. Ann designed the whole store herself, protesting, “You think I would let anyone else design my store? No way!” The walls are painted a vivid crimson and hung with gilded mirrors and Italian silk drapes in teal and copper. The showcases are custom-made of copper, and the floor is inlaid with colored glass and what Ann calls “my own personal ʻyellow brick roadʼ.” Overhead is an extravagant chandelier, and in the corner sits a kingʼs chair with arms carved in the shape of lions. Music is an important element of the store, and Ann aims to make customers feel as though theyʼre “chillinʼ in some fabulously hip lounge.” Ann and Raffi have more than their fair share of celebrity devotees, but everyone is welcome at Rafinity. Especially those who “get it,” adds Ann. “We like making people feel part of the ʻAʼ list.” The couple still staff the place themselves, and with others who share their outlook. Their slogan, “Rock the jewels” fits their image entirely. Advertisement Debbie Yonick bestows full marks on Rafinity, dubbing it “total eye candy. This salon is hip, edgy, and screaming with character, definitely inspiring and very sexy.” RoxAnna falls short of full marks, but is still sweet on the store. “This is very cool!” she says. “Great finishes and a fun attitude — on-trend for a young, hip audience.” Fred agrees. “This store is definitely cool,” adding wryly, “for the Hollywood snobs who patronize it.” Brett and Penny are both unsure about the in-your-face vibe, with Penny describing Rafinity as “very artistic, but a little ʻmuchʼ for me.” PHOTO GALLERY (2 Images) Related Topics: jewelry stores in CaliforniaRafinity click to Comment(Comment) Up Next ACS 2003: The Judges Don't Miss Finalist-ACS 2003 – Molina Fine Jewelers Anna Tyler Continue Reading Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEO Wilkerson Testimonials Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. 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