Rochelle Goldberg of Rhodeus discusses the ‘natural history’ of her collection
Although the name Rhodeus may not ring a bell, Rochelle Goldberg’s designs surely will. The Canadian designer just recently tweeted that her jewelry company, Ralph and Duchess, is changing its name to Rhodeus, which is ancient Greek for “rose,” a term used during the Etruscan period in Italy.
Two years ago, a friend who was working at Lucky Magazine suggested Rochelle for a designer profile; however, the company was still in its infancy – sans name. When the editor called her, Rochelle came up with the name “Ralph and Duchess” off the top of her head, but now thinks she needs a name that will evolve more with the company.
“The name suited the pieces at the time, but it’s important at this stage, while I’m still fairly new, that I give the line a name I can grow with,” she said.
Just like the origins of Rhodeus, Rochelle was greatly inspired by Etruscan jewelry while making her latest collection, “Natural History.”
Renowned for her love of Victorian jewelry, roses and feminine designs, Rochelle kept her iconic look, but took it to a new level after seeing an exhibit on the pre-Roman civilization, which was known for intricate metalwork and bronze castings.
“I wanted to incorporate a larger scale with the collection because that’s more my taste, especially in terms of sculpture,” she said. “The daintier jewelry wasn’t allowing me to do that.”
A visit to a British museum inspired her to put a twist on her aesthetic.
“The tools were so rudimentary, but the pieces were so much larger,” she said. “I was pretty impressed with what (the Etruscans) were able to do with limited technology.”
The collection’s name also had some cinematic influence. While shooting the lookbook, Rochelle said the 1986 film “The Mission” inspired her: a story of Spanish Jesuit missionaries and their attempts to convert the indigenous of South America to Christianity during the 18th century.
“When we shot the lookbook, we wanted to maintain the aesthetic. The missionaries are there in these Victorian robes, and it’s taking place in primal nature,” she said. “The juxtaposition, even though there are severe political associations … I thought the feeling was very in tune with it.”
She was only able to reveal a couple pieces of the new line – two pairs of ear cuffs – which don’t necessarily show off the volume that she speaks of. In Natural History, Rochelle said, the cuffs and necklaces will be significantly larger.
Her own style, she confessed, is a little funkier, and she’s an avid collector of large vintage jewelry. Her attraction to Etruscan jewelry and the progression of the brand is a reflection of the evolution of her own personal style, she said.
“I think when I started (Ralph and Duchess) I was buying a lot of Victorian heirloom jewelry at markets. A lot of pieces that would end up in families for years … They had that feeling of your great-grandmother’s ring,” she said. “I liked the kind of history that came with that. As I got more comfortable working with the materials and playing with jewelry, I got interested in even historically earlier and older jewelry.”
With a new collection and name in bloom, we’re excited to see where Rochelle will take her Etruscan rose.
For more information about Rhodeus (formerly Ralph and Duchess), visit her temporary website at ralphandduchess.com. Her website is in the process of being re-branded with the new name.