Meet The Designer: Zoe Chicco of Zoe Chicco Jewelry
Simple, Classic, but with a twist: Zoë Chicco's pieces pack a punch while still being easy to wear (Like this itty bitty SLAY stud). We caught up with Zoë Chicco to learn all about the designer behind the brand. Shop Zoë's full line here.
How did you get started making jewelry?
I have made jewelry for as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of gluing together random found objects – buttons, keys, beads, coins – whatever I could get my hands on. My love for making things really blossomed after I took my first jewelry classes in high school. As soon as I began to learn the art of metalsmithing, I was hooked! In my sophomore year of college, I decided that I would try to make a career of it, so I majored in Studio Art with a Metalsmithing concentration and never looked back.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
Jewelry was the only career I ever wanted to pursue. I got my first job as a bench jeweler upon my graduation from college. From there I went on to apprentice under several designers before launching my own brand. I feel lucky to have had such a clear vision so early on so I could start working towards my dream job right out of school.
How long have you been in the trade?
In 2020, I celebrated 20 years in business!
What does your business look like now, versus when you started?
I’ve come a long way since starting my line in the closet of my San Francisco apartment . Over the years, my solo venture has grown into a vibrant working jewelry studio based in Downtown Los Angeles. Today, all operations and production are under one roof, complete with a tight-knit family of artisans who hand make each piece of jewelry and the front-of-house employees and sales team who make my dream a reality every single day.
What’s the most challenging part about being a jewelry designer?
I would say the most challenging part is trying to separate yourself from the crowd. The jewelry space has gotten very saturated in the past couple of years. It is important to keep the line feeling fresh and ahead of the curve while remaining true to our brand aesthetic. I want people to see our jewelry and know that it is a Zoë Chicco piece.
What’s your favorite part about being a jewelry designer?
I love the design process and creating something that someone can wear and cherish for a lifetime. To be able to create personal heirlooms that hold special meaning, can actually be worn daily as a talisman, AND will hold their value and stand the test of time makes fine jewelry a truly unique medium.
Who is another jewelry designer that you admire/do you have a mentor in the jewelry industry?
I have so much respect for many designers in our industry. Last year I had the honor of traveling to Africa with the DeBeers Group with 6 other designers (Jade Trau, Julez Bryant, Jennie Kwon, Polly Wales, Bibi van der Velden and Nikos Koulis). It was such an incredible experience that really bonded us, and we have stayed in touch regularly since that trip. I have so much respect for each of them. We all have our own unique vision and such a diverse aesthetic but at the same time we have so much in common and enjoy sharing our experiences and areas of expertise with one another.
Do you have a favorite piece that you have made?
They are all my babies, don’t make me pick a favorite! No, I have a couple of pieces that I wear every day that have great sentimental meaning – especially my dog tag that has my son’s name, birth date and the coordinates where he was born. I have worn it almost daily since he was born and it even has his teeth marks on it because he used to chew on it as a baby. I also love my mantra medallion, which has my personal mantra on it that I have had since my childhood. It was the sage advice that my parents bestowed on me growing up, “Work hard, stay humble, be kind.”
Do you have a favorite metal or stone that you prefer to work with?
I work exclusively with recycled, fair-mined 14k gold and always have. Early on, I also designed in sterling silver or a mix of metals, and while many of my designs translated fairly seamlessly across the board, I feel I really hit my stride when I started to focus solely on 14k gold. The versatility that 14k gold provides is endless; every season I design pieces that are approachable in terms of price point and some that are more aspirational. I love that my customers don’t have to opt for costume jewelry when building their core jewelry collections. As far as my favorite stone, I’d say my first and truest love are diamonds. Almost all of my signature styles include diamonds in some way, shape or form.
Do trends in the industry affect the way you design a new collection?
In some respects, I try to keep abreast of trends and have them in my awareness when designing new pieces, in terms of silhouette or stones, but I don’t jump on a bandwagon and depart from my signature style just because something is having a big moment. I leave that to the designers who have been doing it as part of their brand DNA as they do it best in my opinion.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry from your own personal collection?
I think my favorite piece other than the personal pieces I mentioned earlier is my diamond shield necklace. I had just started to make one of a kind diamond pieces in fancy shapes and I fell in love with a stone that was much larger and more expensive than what I was typically selling at the time. I didn’t know if this collection would work for my customers since one of a kinds were a departure for me, and I didn’t want to invest too heavily at that point, so I didn’t buy it. My husband (who works with me) surprised me for my birthday with the stone and had our team make a necklace for me. I never take it off and I sell a lot of this silhouette now because people always see mine and want one for themselves! It goes to show – if you can - trust your judgment and just go for it! It will likely pay off in the end.