06 Feb Senior in Action – Adrienne Rubin
Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.
Senior in Action – Adrienne Rubin
By Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Does February find you poring over Valentine advertisements for diamond rings, ruby necklaces, or heart shaped silver lockets? Once upon a time, Adrienne Rubin worked out of her car, carrying a suitcase filled with silver, gold or gemstone jewelry, which she sold wholesale to stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Adrienne shared that she fell into the jewelry business by chance on a vacation to Mexico. While admiring silver jewelry in a shop she and her husband Stanford had frequented previously, the business owner asked for legal advice regarding problems with a Los Angeles jewelry wholesaler. Adrienne says, “I was feeling bereft. Our two children were in school, and my brief career as a school teacher had not satisfied my ambitions or creativity. My volunteer work with a local hospital to compile 2 cookbooks for fundraising had ended, and I was at loose ends. I thought, ‘I’ll sell silver jewelry for him!’ It wasn’t easy AT ALL, but I learned, and grew the business from part-time to full-time. I did it!”
In the beginning, Adrienne sold only silver jewelry from her Mexican source. Soon the business mushroomed to include gold chains from the downtown LA jewelry district, then gemstone jewelry discovered at gem shows in Hong Kong and Italy. Selling diamonds is where Adrienne’s trouble began. She grew up with a father who prided himself on being honest. Adrienne was naïve enough to believe that everyone who bought jewelry from her was honest like her dad. Adrienne said in an interview for VoyageLA, “Because I was naive, I made many wrong decisions, and more than once I trusted the wrong people. Yet each time I fell, I got right back up again. Giving up was never an option. To get to where you want to go, you cannot let fear of failure get in your way. For me, every challenge was an opportunity to soar even higher than before.” Rather than spoil the ending of her book titled, Diamonds and Scoundrels: My Life in the Jewelry Business, suffice it to say that Adrienne learned there are crooks out there, and she was determined dishonest people would NOT take advantage of her.
Adrienne grew up in Beverly Hills from the age of two after her family moved from Chicago. She graduated from Beverly Hills High School, and attended the School of Modern French in Lausanne, Switzerland for a year where she learned to speak French fluently. She continued her college studies at UC Berkeley, and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Teaching from UCLA. She married Stanford Rubin, a partnership which has lasted over 50 years. Adrienne and Stanford raised a daughter Pamela and son Randall, and enjoy traveling with, and cooking for, their three grandsons. The most requested dish from Grand-Mère is her tender brisket.
In October 2019, Adrienne received the Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award from the Los Angeles Arthritis Foundation as their top L.A. fundraiser. For ten years, Adrienne has ridden her bike in the Arthritis Foundation’s California Coast Classic, an eight-day bicycle trip along California’s coastline from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Adrienne reminisced, “I was a total neophyte when the bicycle tour was proposed as a fundraiser. I had to purchase a bicycle and take lessons to learn how to operate the gears. I was 65 the first year that I rode in this event. Approximately 350 cyclists participate each year. My husband has been challenged with arthritis since his 30s, and had both hips replaced plus numerous back surgeries for arthritis complications. He served as chairman of the national Arthritis Foundation board of directors. As he became less active in fundraising, I became more involved.” Congratulations, Adrienne! If NBY readers desire a physical challenge for 2020, dust off your bicycles and start training for the next California Coast Classic which will take place October 3-10, 2020. For more details, visit www.events.arthritis.org
Adrienne Rubin’s memoir, Diamonds and Scoundrels: My Life in the Jewelry Business is available through www.Amazon.com, www.target.com, www.walmart.com or www.barnesandnoble.com, or place an order at your local bookstore.