Behind the Bench: Andrea Rokosz | Varyer
A workbench with pieces of gold jewelry on it.

Behind the Bench: Andrea Rokosz

Our partnership with Asrai Garden allows us to meet makers, artists, and longtime collaborators that have been engaged with Asrai for many years. This conversation was inspired by Asrai's recent Magic in Mined collection.

Andrea Rokosz is one of the featured artists for Asrai Garden’s Magic in Mined collection, a collaborative project among Asrai Garden, Misfit Diamonds, and a handful of jewelers. These designers created one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by the longstanding friendships and partnerships between Asrai Garden and their own brands.

Some of these designers have been working with Asrai Garden since they started offering fine jewelry in 2005, and some are newer friends. All have lent their unique perspective to grow Asrai’s fine jewelry offerings to the magical collection that Asrai is known for.

When asked, Rokosz can’t even put a number on the years she’s been working with Asrai—but she does recall many milestones in their relationship together, like her first time showing her gold work at an Asrai Garden trunk show. Before that, Rokosz had only been working in silver, marking a major transition in her jewelry practice.

“There’s been this beautiful journey that they’ve come alongside me on. Not pushing me in any way, but just supporting me along the way. One of the things that I almost cry thinking about is how many of [the Asrai staff] have gotten me to do custom, really important pieces for them.”

A quick scroll through Andrea Rokosz’s Instagram page reveals how her work is hard to nail down. With designs ranging from “Super ‘s’” pendants and cocktail shrimp charms to elegant, angular engagement rings, Rokosz herself hesitates to define her own creative style and interests.

“In all honesty, my style is always evolving,” she says. Even within her city of Vancouver, she draws inspiration both from the urban environment and from the nearby mountains and ocean. As a mother of two children, she also emphasizes the importance of nostalgia and the well of creativity that dwells within that sense of the inner child. She’s currently working on designs for an ocean-inspired ring that harkens back to some of her early life memories.

“I grew up in a little beach town, and we would go have picnics at the beach after school and watch the sunset every night. Maybe it's because I'm seeing the world through my kids’ eyes that it's reminding me so much of my childhood. But right now, it's feeling like that's kind of like a real inspiration point, which is beautiful.”

Two gold pendants, one an oyster and one a shrimp.

In the process of developing the pieces for the Magic in Mined collection, each jeweler was able to select from a set of Misfit sapphires that Asrai Garden curated. Rokosz made her selection as a challenge for herself: as someone who makes a lot of wedding and engagement bands, she wanted to go for a set of gems that would allow her to work on a totally different kind of piece. Even at this point in the process, she was excited by the creative environment established by Asrai and Misfit—whose owner, Ashkan Asgari, is a strong supporter of new designers in the industry. “Everyone's stoked on each other. That's when the best work happens, when everyone's a cheerleader,” Rokosz says.

The sapphires that she ended up selecting, two 6 x 3 mm heated, baguette Madagascar sapphires that total 0.75 carats, were the basis for her design. "Those stones, when you put them in the light, they glow like neon," she says.

A tattooed hand holds various pieces of gold jewelry and gems.
A wrist with many gold bracelets.
A workbench with pieces of gold jewelry on it.
A hand holds a pair of gold earrings with a chain that connects them.

The final result, the “Hybrid” earrings, are a truly one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry that can be worn a variety of ways: the chain can be detached and worn as a bracelet or necklace, or it can dangle from each earring to form a chin strap chain. This modular feature of the piece makes it challenging to define: it's not quite a pair of earrings, not quite a necklace. Really, it's a cohesive set that can be re-styled to suit the wearer's preference in the moment. (For the record, Rokosz herself would style it with the chain attached, creating a new level of dimension with other necklaces.)

Rokosz also introduced some familiar motifs from her prior collaborations with Asrai Garden: a moon and a snake. “It was a celebration of the time that I've gotten to work with Asrai Garden. It feels really special that I've had this magical journey of working with Asrai for so many years.”

For the Hybrid earrings, Rokosz knew that she wanted to channel that feeling of nostalgia. With the success of her business, she has moved into using tools like CAD software to aid in the process of developing and crafting her jewelry. But for this piece, she went old-school: she embraced an intuitive process of working directly with the materials, creating castings for the snakes and gem settings.

A pair of gold earrings with blue sapphires.

“I was laying the materials out in front of me, and as I was carving, things like things were fitting together differently,” she explains, articulating the handmade nature of the piece. But she offers one disclaimer: “I mean, I didn't make the chain. That would be fucking crazy.”

When asked what was special to her about this piece, Rokosz emphasized the rare opportunity to make something so different and conceptual.

“It really felt fun. I wanted to make something that no one's ever really seen before. I wanted it to feel like a choose-your-own-adventure.”