Alex and Ani CEO leaves company

In this photo taken July 18, 2012, Alex and Ani owner and designer Carolyn Rafaelian, right, and former CEO Giovanni Feroce stand in one of their stores in Cranston.

Rhode Island-based jewelry maker Alex and Ani says CEO Giovanni Feroce has left the company for undisclosed reasons.

The company, one of the state's most visible and fast-growing businesses in recent years, said in a written statement Thursday that founder and creative director Carolyn Rafaelian has been named interim CEO.

Feroce told NBC 10's Parker Gavigan that he wouldn't discuss the details of his departure but said he set standards for the company and was proud of the work he did. He wished his employees the very best.

Feroce also said he looks forward to his next challenge, whatever that may be.

The company says a search for a new CEO is expected to take several months.

The Cranston-based company sells in retailers worldwide and has many U.S. shops where it sells trendy jewelry made from recycled materials. It was founded in 2004 and has risen to prominence in part by sponsoring well known events such as the Newport Folk Festival. It ran a TV ad during the Super Bowl this year.

Four years ago, the company earned about $5 million in annual revenue. In 2013, that figured ballooned to $230 million.

"Their growth has been high, you know, even by national standards. Ink Magazine has placed them amongst the top 100 growth companies in the last few years," said Mark Murphy, editor of the Providence Business News.

"It's not unusual for a board of directors to say once we reach a certain level and we expect to go even higher in terms of sales and growth, we need a different kind of executive, we need someone who's managed this size company before and Giovanni has not."

Feroce has publicly enjoyed the riches of his success.

In January, he paid $6.8 million in cash for Newport's Wyndham Estate, a place he said he hoped to make into a home for his five children after a divorce.

At about the same time, he was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by his former friend and Alex and Ani general counsel Robert Rainville.

Feroce dismissed the lawsuit as baseless, but in it Rainville says the former CEO engaged in sexual misconduct with employees, used illegal drugs at company events, and took services and financial benefits from company vendors that were not properly reported as income.

"Actually I was shocked. But I have no idea what happened, why he left the company, if it was the company's doing or Giovanni's," Rainville told NBC 10 on Thursday.

"In spite of my case against Alex and Ani and Giovanni, I've known him for 30 years. He was a friend of mine for over 30 years and I wish him nothing but the best and nothing but the best for his family."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.