In conversation withZoë Chicco
Since she started out making jewelry in the closet of her apartment back in 2000, Zoe Chicco has grown her business to employ 25 people, fostering a family atmosphere that reflects the highly personal nature of her work. What's more, the artisans in her Los Angeles studio hand-make her elegant recycled gold jewelry end-to-end, which is not something every fine jewelry brand can say.
"I usually have a muse in mind or I think about what I'd like to wear when I'm designing," she says, and her thought process takes the smallest details into account to make sure that the woman who wears it will feel like "it's an extension of their persona". Hers are the kind of reach-for, easy pieces that feel like a part of you, that make you feel polished and put-together, but sorely lacking if you leave them off.
We spoke to Zoe about how we tell our stories through jewelry, delved into her own personal collection, and learned which colored stones are currently having a moment.
What is the biggest inspiration for your work?
I tend to have my best moments of inspiration when I am traveling. Outside of the office, my focus shifts and creativity flows. I am a very visual person so what I see inspires me - be it a sunset, a piece of art or an architectural detail. If you open yourself up to it, inspiration is everywhere.
You use both precious and semi-precious gemstones. Which are the most popular and why do you think this is?
Almost all my signature styles include diamonds in some way, and they are by far our most popular stone. Emeralds are definitely having a moment right now, and it’s been a fun change to design with such a gorgeous colored stone. I love them paired with diamonds or surrounded by a heavy dose of yellow gold. Turquoise and pearls are our best-selling semi-precious stones, they add a pop of color, a vintage feel, and an organic quality. Plus, semi-precious stones usually come with a lower price tag, which makes them a nice counterpart to our diamond styles.
Why do you think women today are so drawn to jewelry that can tell their personal story?
We have always been known for our personalized collection and I think it's because people love to wear pieces that celebrate milestones, honor their loved ones, or express their personalities. Personalized pieces help them tell their story; from initials and engraving to birthstones and charms, these meaningful mementos can be worn every day as personal talismans for protection, luck or reminders of the ones they love most, to be handed down for generations to come.
How do you integrate trends into your collections without altering your style?
As an avid shopper and lover of all things fashion-oriented, it's impossible not to take note of what's in fashion. When designing new pieces, I try to keep trends in my awareness (in terms of silhouettes, chain styles or stone choices), but I don't let them steer the ship. There are so many talented designers with certain trends already built into their brand DNA. I let them do what they do best, and stay true to myself and my design aesthetic.
“ I rarely take off my jewelry, my layers have become like a second skin and are definitely part of my signature style “
Personally speaking, which are the pieces of jewelry that you never take off?
I rarely take off my jewelry, my layers have become like a second skin and are definitely part of my signature style (not to mention it would just take too long, since I wear about 30 styles daily!). A lot of the pieces I wear every day have great sentimental meaning. I always wear my dog tag engraved with my son's name, birth date and the coordinates where he was born, it even has his little teeth marks on it because he used to chew on it as a baby. I also love my mantra medallion engraved "Work hard, stay humble, be kind”, the sage advice that my parents bestowed on me growing up. I never take off our original one-of-a-kind shield diamond necklace which my husband made for me for my birthday, and quite possibly our most requested piece to re-make. I am also never without my beloved arm candy; an eclectic mix of ZC favorites, vintage chain bracelets inherited from my grandmother, my original muse, and a custom pave diamond TRULOVE cuff. The same goes for my fingers and ears - they're always adorned with signature stacks that I rarely change or take off, they just feel like an extension of my true self at this point.
How do you like to see your jewelry styled?
Personally, I love the layered look and think our pieces work magic in that department. You can’t go wrong if you start with the basics and level up from there. Throw on your everyday delicate staples then style them with heavier gold pieces, add a few personalized pieces to help tell your story and top it off with a diamond pop (or two!).
Who wears your jewelry best?
Our clients! Truly nothing makes me happier than seeing real women wearing our jewelry that was handmade right here in our Los Angeles studio. That's what keeps me going and continues to inspire me day in and day out. I love to see how they mix and match it!