Celebrating African cultures and heritages through her jewellery, Marie-Paule draws on modern art, artefacts, traditional fashion, beauty and agriculture as her main influences. She designs her pieces in London and works with a local caster to create a mould for each design, before sending some off to traditional artisans in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire and Istanbul. Marie-Paule then assembles and finishes each piece by hand in her home studio.
How does ROKUS celebrate African cultures and heritage?
I like to create jewellery that has a meaning or a history. For that, I like to integrate symbols such as the cowrie, which represents abundance and fertility, or masks that are used to celebrate adulthood or fruitful harvests, and others that have strong positive meanings (resilience, love, beauty) with a sleek, modern finish that really elevates the final designs.
How do you hope your pieces inspire those who wear them?
I aim to create pieces that will exist and be worn beyond trends and generations. I’ve seen that the people who enjoy wearing our pieces are individuals who are looking for jewellery that stands out and elevates their look. I hope that by wearing our jewellery pieces, people will feel even more confident, more daring, and will also be curious about the history and cultures behind them.
Where does your interest in making jewellery come from?
My interest in making jewellery came from my passion for wearing big, bold jewellery. Growing up and watching my mother dress up, she’d always finish every outfit with some statement earrings, her favourite goldfish pendant (which was enamelled with a rainbow of colours), and many gold rings. I also believe that some of what I do and my love for it is somehow passed on from my ancestors. As it turns out, my father is from the Akan tribe in Côte d’Ivoire, which traditionally makes jewellery and sculptures from bronze and gold.