I didn't know Andrea of Army of Rokosz that well until I embarked on the project of the Dream Diam designer showcase pop-up that I going on this month of May. That said the moment I saw her creation for my shop, I knew I had to get to know her better. She communications without speaking through her work which embodies - talent, creativity, and strength.
I am delighted to bring you this interview so you can get to know her better. She is a true creative spirit and hardcore jewelry lover (the best kind). She strongly believes, what I love most about jewelry - that it holds a special place in our lives as talismans, marks occasions, empowers us, and brings us strength when we need it most.
My favorite stone is…
super included, deep, smoky, mysterious, galaxy filled diamonds. I’ll take them rose cut or brilliant, round or geometric, they are always so special.
What’s your design ethos?
I view what I am doing as an art form where I get to create really meaningful little wearable sculptures for people. There is a beautifully historically technical side to it all as well to ensure proper craftsmanship and longevity of each piece but what truly makes handmade jewelry so special is the unique vision woven through each piece that holds that clients soul and the maker's spirit.
Okay, your name is bad ass, how did you come up with it?
I get asked this all the time and there is a bit of a debate between me and my brother in regard to who came up with the name, I swear it was him but he says it wasn’t…who knows, maybe I dreamt it up? But regardless, of who actually came up with it the name is an homage to my large family.
I have 3 sisters and a brother, so 5 of us together, which was super rare when we were growing up, and our last name is Rokosz. We are all really close with each other and often go places together, show up at the same time and pretty much take over, so naturally, we are the Army Of Rokosz. Rokosz Also loosely translates to rebellion really captures the spirit of the pieces I get to make.
What’s your signature piece of jewelry you always wear?
There are actually quite a few pieces of jewelry that I never take off.The obvious ones are my engagement ring and wedding bands (yes bands, I made myself 2) — I got married last summer and it was a total trip to get to make mine and my husband's wedding bands…you dream of a lot of things when you’re kid, but I could have never imagined doing that!
I would say they were the hardest pieces I have ever had to design, mostly because I was my own worst client and totally indecisive. I swear if they hadn’t needed to be done by the wedding I would still be making changes to them to this day.
I also wear 5 silver bracelets on my left wrist all the time. And I am not exaggerating when I say all the time. I wake up with them imprinted on my face in the mornings, have a permanent white cuff on my skin underneath them where my wrist never sees the sun.
One of the bracelets is the original carving of an Ouroboros bangle from the last silver collection I did, and the other 4 are big curb link chains, 3 of the chains are old school style ID bracelets, one of them has a turquoise in it that I bought in Albuquerque on the most epic road trip ever, one has a carved peso on it that my studio partner gave me the day he moved into the shop with me and one has a plate on it that says “I’ll never stop loving you” that is part of a matching set for my husband and I that I made when he was my boyfriend.
Then my thumb on my are 2 tiny little gold bands that were my grandma's wedding rings that I’d probably have to cut off at this point to remove them. I grew up with my grandma as part of my immediate family because she lived with us from when I was about 5 months old. When I was a kid, she and I would take trips out to this mall that was about half an hour away from our house so I could by bead and metal components and string together necklaces.
She would buy me the charms that I couldn’t afford for myself and taught me how to close jump rings and attach clasps to leather cord, but the most important thing she did for me was wearing the pieces that I made for her. She always encouraged me to find a career where I worked with my hands to pursue something creative (even when I was years into studying cognitive neuroscience at University) which is really beautiful to think of now that she saw something in me I had no idea was there.
She was a wise woman in her own way and such a huge support for me, but she passed away a few months before I was accepted into the jewelry design program, so keeping a tangible reminder of her with me at all times while I navigate through this life is really important to me. I think that also speaks a lot to the value and sentiment that I place on jewelry being such a perfect token to mark the moments you cherish and remind you of the people dear to you and why I love that I get to spread that sentiment through my work.
How did you get into jewelry?
I’m about to sound real cheesy but, I honestly feel like jewelry was really always in me. I was always so attracted to the idea of decorating myself with it as a child and thought wearing it was a unique way to set myself apart from other people, when I was a teenager I would take the bus downtown and buy the biggest grungiest (it was the late 90’s) rings I could find from the street vendors and wear them on every finger.
I feel like it was a path I was somewhat destined to find my way to but I had always focused on more of an academic future. When I was in university I was working full time at a really great job in a management position while taking some pretty intense classes in school, my boyfriend had just moved away for a year for his career and the whole things had me feeling a bit overwhelmed so I took an evening jewelry class for fun to kind of lighten up my evenings and chill me out a bit.
I was seriously hooked from pretty much the second class started, the way my hands got to work and move made them feel like they were coming alive. When our first session ended I went up to the instructor and was like “Do you make jewelry for a living?” and decided right then I’d be leaving my job and dropping out of university.
What excites you about this project with Shop Gem Hunt?
I am seriously so honored that I was chosen to be one of the designers on this project. Honestly, I was excited about this project from the moment I talked to Ash about it, his enthusiasm is contagious. I started working with Ash a couple years back when my business was shifting into doing ceremonial pieces full time and he has been a massive help to me and such a huge support — I would probably get on board with (almost) anything he threw my way.
I am so impressed by the two of you bringing together such a solid group of designers with such differing perspectives — which created the most rad lineup of engagement rings ever! When you look at everyone's finished pieces it's hard to believe that we were all given the same stones to choose from. That’s the real excitement of all of this, and the industry, in general, is that there are so many creative visionaries making such wonderfully unique things. I feel very lucky that I got to be part of this and excited that I got to create something really special for it and connect with the other designers, and you!
You can find Andrea's ring for Shop Gem Hunt Here