The Man Behind The Jewelry: Interview with Founder and Creative Director Michael Dobkin
Rosey West is founded on the core belief that jewelry is personal; and it was an incredibly personal journey that led our founder and creative director, Michael Dobkin, to launch Rosey West. We discussed how Rosey West got its start, sources of inspiration, and his favorite things do to around New York City among other things that make Rosey West the brand it is today.
What do you do at Rosey West?: I am the Founder and Creative Director of Rosey West. From designing to building relationships with press and retailers, I wear many hats and my responsibilities can change on a daily basis. The one consistent piece of my job is to set the tone and creative vision for the brand.
Most crucial career/life experience that led you to your current career position: This was an interesting road, so bear with me. I went to school for design at Parsons School of Design in New York City and assumed I’d be working in ready-to-wear, as I’m sure most design students expect. When I ended up choosing bridal as my focus, my course as a designer went in a totally different direction. Thinking about embroidery, hand-sewn intricate details, beading, couture… it makes you design differently — at least it made me design differently. I kept going back to the idea of being able to make something myself, so I actually started making hand embroidered bridal accessories at home in my apartment. I was designing veils, bridal sashes, headpieces, etc.
I started to get a few samples finished for what I believed would be my first collection. I showed my friends in the industry — other designers, editors — and they all had positive reviews, but there was something about it that just wasn’t resonating with me.
I wanted to work with precious and semi-precious stones instead of crystal, gold instead of brass. That felt meaningful to me. That’s when I immediately rethought everything and switched my focus to fine jewelry.
Once I had my “a-ha” moment, I designed the collection in a little under a month and had all thirty or so pieces of my first collection made within two months. I think it started in July and I had everything ready to go by September. It really was that moment of when it’s right, it’s right and all of the pieces easily fell into place.
Approximately how many pieces of jewelry have you designed: The number is probably impossible to quantify. My mind is always working, always running. Even when I don’t have a pencil and paper I’m designing in my head. Only twenty-five percent of what's going on in my head probably makes it to paper. I love conceptualizing so it’s a non-stop process. I’m sure I’ve designed the same pieces a few hundred times without even realizing it.
Types of materials are used for the jewelry: Primarily I like to work with 14k gold as a base. It’s a bit lighter in color than 18k gold that has more of a rich tone to it and feels more practical for every day. It also has more durability, and for someone like me that knocks into everything and has a habit of breaking things it works better for my lifestyle.
Favorite cut, shape and/or material to work with?: For stones, I love working with rose-cut diamonds and sapphires. The old world precious stone cuts are fun to work with, and rose-cut diamonds have less faceting than a more traditional round brilliant, which creates a really beautiful mirroring effect.
Any hidden skills or hobbies: I grew up wanting to be either a designer or a writer. When designing, my inspiration always came from literature. Whether it be one of the classics or something I had come up with on my own. Whenever I can find the time I try to write, and if I can’t write I try to read. Words have always been so powerful and thought provoking, which tends to lead to new design concepts.
Currently reading and/or listening to: My favorite author is Patricia Mckillip and I’ve been trying to read her most recent novel Kingfisher. She writes the most beautiful prose, so much so that I try to savor her books if there isn’t another in queue to be published anytime soon. I’m secretly hoping she publishes her next book soon so I can actually get through this one and not feel like I don’t have any new stories lined up.
Favorite activity to do in New York City: As cliche as this sounds, walk around. The city has so much depth, you really have no idea what you’re going to happen upon. I was walking in the West Village the other day and wandered down a few streets I had never been down and felt instantly transported. Each side street and corner can transform into a totally different world, and you never know what inspiration is around the next block.
Favorite clothing item in your closet and why?: Aside from jewelry, all of my hats. If you’ve met me, you know I’m always wearing a hat. I started wearing a hat every day probably ten or so years ago and feel totally naked without one.
Four adjectives to describe your tastes and sensibilities: Simple and pragmatic, romantic and whimsical.
Who would you like to make an engagement ring for?: My best friend. I hope if she ever gets engaged she would ask me to design a ring for her. That would be the most special moment of my career.
Who are your favorite designers for Ready to Wear?: Right now I’d have to say All Saints, Rag & Bone, Calvin Klein, Ryan Roche, and Ellery.
We’ve just entered 2017. What is the biggest current trend in the jewelry market? What will the 2017 woman look like? : I think the lightweight everyday jewelry trend is going to stay strong for a while, though I have been seeing some beautiful statement earrings hit the market. I think the 2017 woman is going to continue pushing her own individuality and continue to create looks that are unique to her. So I’d expect to see more stacking and layering to emphasize personal style.