After 20 years, Roseark’s curation of fine jewelry is woven into L.A. style.
The West Hollywood retailer has helped identify and launch some of jewelry’s rising stars, including Jennifer Meyer, Jacquie Aiche and Padé Vavra, among others.
Newly remodeled with a garden out front, an art gallery and home goods recently added, the store has long been a quiet oasis of discovery for stars and stylists looking for conversation pieces with a whiff of Los Angeles subversiveness, such as the Karma El-Khalil Veterbrae body chain with coral and Rhodachrosite ($24,600) on a mannequin by the door, Carolyn Radley’s naughty “Sweet Spot” pendant ($1,800) in a case nearby, and the Maura Green mushroom necklaces (starting at $350) that are floating out on the popularity of mushroom madness.
Rick Rose founded the business in 2003 with his ex-wife, jewelry designer Kathy Rose, who was instrumental in its success the first two decades. She sold her stake in Roseark in February, and opened a new L.A. jewelry business, Argyle and Valentine. Rick’s new wife, Kayla, is now co-owner of Roseark, buying for the store and helping to run the day to day.
“Roseark is a magical experience for both a jeweler and a customer. From the second I walk through the gate, I’m transported by the curation and aesthetic. Everything just feels special and inspiring,” said jewelry designer Jeet Kaur Rodriguez Sohal, whose Bare collection sells at the store. “It is where I first saw the work of California jewelers who define contemporary artisanal fine jewelry for me such as Daniela Villegas and James Banks. They really support jewelers by encouraging artistry and educating consumers on exactly what they are buying.”
Witness to the rise of L.A. as a style capital, from the early 2000s when celebrity jewelry was documented by magazines like Us Weekly through the elevation of stylists to celebrities, and now into the height of influencer culture, Roseark has seen it all.
“We definitely had a sweet spot where we got Oscar pulls and red carpets all the time, but when brands started paying people to wear jewelry it really changed. And now each of the big fashion houses also has fine jewelry,” Rick Rose said.
But among Roseark’s loyal clients, uniqueness is prized.
“People now are really looking for things that have a meaning or a story, whether it’s numerology or their colors, it’s such a different market today than when we jumped into it,” he said. “Jewelry is under the game of fast fashion now, too, and handmade isn’t necessarily about being handmade. But more people want to find their individuality, so it’s swinging back toward that kind of craft and ostentatious pieces.”
Roseark is also a jewelry brand; Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Kourtney Kardashian are fans of the sideways cross necklaces and rosebud bypass cuffs. Rose also partnered with celebrity tattoo artist Dr. Woo on a line of “wearable tattoos” called Crescent Heights Hardware Lab.
But during the SAG-AFTRA strike, Roseark was challenged like so many other businesses.
“We are in an industry town, and we don’t realize how entrenched the town is until you’re put it to the test like this and see restaurants folding that have massive backing,” he said. “We have friends who are chefs and their restaurants are down 60 percent. And we’re frankly in a similar place. It’s not just the actors, it’s the costumers, the caterers…you run it top to bottom and when that money isn’t flowing through town, we’re all impacted.”
While Roseark has always been a lifestyle boutique, with its art gallery featuring rotating shows, plus sweatshirts and T-shirts, books and children’s gifts on offer, this month marks the introduction of a selection of home goods, including modernist handmade pillows by French designer Raphaële Malbec; handblown “Dervish” carafes inspired by Dervish dresses, by Lebanese artist Nada Debs, and magnolia flower vase sculptures by Little World Design. Prices are $150 to $3,000.
“The bottom line is you have to find a way to adapt, find a new market, and with home goods people might be willing to spend money on that carafe and glasses, where jewelry is out of reach.”
Still, they’re always looking for new talent, and with social media, it’s easier to make new discoveries. “We still get submissions, and we might see someone wearing something and ask the designer to send photos to us to look at. So yeah, it’s definitely a different marketplace. But with that also comes direct sales, and some brands aren’t even wholesaling anymore.”
How do they stay competitive? They have a list of 10,000 clients developed over that time. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to continue providing these people with different brands, different jewelry, just a different perspective,” said Rose. “Take someone like Perez Bitan, she’s not carried anywhere else, we definitely have a number of brands that are limited.”
The industry in general, and L.A. specifically, has a lot more players now than two decades ago.
“I feel like everyone is a jewelry designer now,” said Kayla Rose.
“Initially it would be a celebrity tie-in with a brand at whatever price point and with whatever housewife. And that was part of transitioning into this fast-fashion jewelry phase with massive manufacturers getting in on that,” said Rick Rose.
Fine jewelry has become more of a fashion category now, too, and it’s sold widely at local clothing boutiques like Elyse Walker, and on global e-commerce platforms Net-a-porter and Matches.
“There’s a small percentage who can afford to see it as their fashion twist, but that’s grown,” said Rose.
Through it all, Roseark has stayed true to providing an intimate, casual, personalized experience, including collaborating with couples to design engagement rings and other pieces. One of the brand’s most popular pieces is one Rose created more than six years ago. It’s a “dozen roses” necklace with 12 rosebuds with center diamonds on a chain.
“It’s luxury but that doesn’t mean there’s not soul to this business. There are people who are saving two years for a piece, taking a day off work to wait for UPS to deliver it,” he said. “We’re a service industry, for me it’s about that. We had a longtime client who got a dozen roses this year. She said 10 years ago I was going to have that one day. To see her wearing it, those are the moments and you have to take them.”