Perhaps a product of her classical training in Italy, Zoë Chicco brings a thoughtfulness to the craft and production of her jewelry that’s rare for these fast times. Combining 14k gold with diamonds and semi-precious gemstones like opal and turquoise, ZC pieces are stand alone, but also ideal for everyday layering. We recently caught up with Zoë to discuss her creative process and how she has come to influence some of the biggest names in fashion.
Melissa: You studied jewelry making in Italy. Could you tell us a little about what you learned from that experience and how you use that as an LA-based brand now?
Zoë Chicco: Yes, I did a semester in Italy when I was in college and one of the best parts about it was that it was so old school. They taught me things we did not learn in school otherwise. For example, we had to make our own wire. You melt down the gold, then pull it through a draw plate. Very old school techniques, which I think is really cool! These are good skills to have. And there was a design that I made there that I still use today. That’s also kinda cool that I have these designs that are still being used.
But in terms of practicality and doing a production line, I can’t make my own wire. It was a very cool process. I loved it and it definitely made me more passionate about how everything is done, but it’s not necessarily how I do things today. I do absolutely love Europe. I love Italy and I’m lucky enough to go to Paris twice a year for business. That definitely informs the style and how people wear it.
Melissa: Do you see a big difference between your customers there compared with your customers here?
Zoë Chicco: It is a little bit different. We follow trends more here, but there, it’s more about the classic style. That’s more my aesthetic anyways, so that appeals to me. I do think about it…for example we work with a showroom there and they were like, can we do a look book for Parisians? And I’m thinking, okay, that is a different thing. It’s not quite as heavy…maybe it’s simpler. Less hair and makeup…it’s a different look than here.
Melissa: I know your #ZCFindings section features other people on your team or people you’ve found inspiration through. Do you use those interviews to draw inspiration for designs, or is it more just fun to get to know people in-depth?
Zoë Chicco: It’s both. It’s so much fun to meet these people that I admire and get to know their personalities. One of the fun things we do with ‘Findings’ is ‘Come in, look at the jewelry and tell us, how would you style it? How would you wear it? Everyone’s experience is different. Some people know exactly what they want. They put it on and that’s inspiring—to see what they like and are drawn to. And that definitely informs me because these are the women I want to be wearing my jewelry. But also, some of them are like ‘I don’t know! What do I do?’ And that’s super fun too because I get to draw out of them what they like and what they’re into and how they build a story. Then, I also get to know their brands and can support them. Like, I’ll start wearing Heidi Merrick’s clothes and Rachel Pally’s clothes, and all these other women that are awesome and I love. It’s so cool to meet them and get to spend time with them and just share our passions and our experiences.
#ZCFindings is something we’ve been doing for a little over a year and it’s something I really love. It just started with wanting to create more content and I thought this was a great way to see how regular women are styling their jewelry.
Melissa: You’re the queen of the dainty bracelet. How do you get that to show up in a stack of chunky pieces? Is it sometimes hard to find that balance?
Zoë Chicco: This is the tip for any sort of layering. If you put a couple of pieces on, it won’t look as dainty anymore. That’s the art of layering. We tell this to people at our stores all the time. When we sell to department stores, they sometimes are like ‘she likes a heavier look’…so they want to add three chunky necklaces at once! Sometimes one dainty chain looks beautiful and simple, but when you put a few other things with it, it starts to be a bit much.
Melissa: What do you think is the best piece for someone who’s just starting out with layering?
Zoë Chicco: I would say a simple diamond design that’s shorter, with a lighter chain. That’s your starting off point for anything. Even if you layer in a heavier chain or something, that little one will always be at the top. You don’t even have to take it off. People ask me all the time which pieces I like to change, but I don’t change at all. I pretty much just add. The only time I take pieces off is when I give my son a bath at night. I take off anything I think will stab him. But otherwise, it’s too much work to take it all off.
I stack everything, in case you couldn’t tell! Big stacker over here.
Melissa: The herringbone pieces are new to the collection and are very 1970s/80s. What was your inspiration, and will we be seeing more of this?
Zoë Chicco: Yes. The first heavier chain we did was the curve chain. That was very much an 80s hip hop-inspired look, which I love. I’m coming up on my 20th anniversary with the company and dainty and delicate has been my M.O. There have always been lots of people in the industry doing that, and so it was time to do something that feels different. So, we introduced the curve chain last year with a heavier look, but still doing it our way with delicate diamonds and stuff. The reception to that was like crazy town. I was like, ‘Good! They will buy heavier things from me!’ I was very excited. After that, we added the oval link and then the herringbone. I wanted to offer the heavier chain but also try to keep the price point as friendly as possible. The herringbone has more of a 70s look and that’s why we paired it with slides for a more fun 70s vibe. We brought it out lightly to see how people react to it and they really liked it so we’re definitely bringing out more pieces.
Melissa: How often do you add new pieces to the collection? Do you ever discontinue a piece for any reason?
Zoë Chicco: In terms of designing, I do it twice a year now. I mean, I’m designing all year long, but in terms of putting out new product. We show in October and November and for couture we show in June.
Melissa: You are a self-proclaimed beach enthusiast. Are there any trips you went on recently where you had the best time or, alternatively, any beaches you’re looking forward to going to and what are your beach particulars?
Zoë Chicco: Well, I don’t add anything, but I do take off things that can fall off easily. So, cuffs, ear cuffs, my watch, big necklaces…but I leave the rest on. I don’t have any special beach jewelry. In terms of favorites, I went to Tulum last Spring and it has such good vibes. Now it’s become pretty popular, so it’s losing the old school bohemian vibe a bit. The beaches are beautiful, the water is warm. My son just turned 5 and now he’s a really good swimmer, so seeing him playing in the ocean and loving it was really fun.
Melissa: Anything jewelry-wise that you’re looking forward to introducing for Fall?
Zoë Chicco: I can tell you about new things we’re introducing. I tend toward lighter layers in Summer, but in Fall, we’ll have more chunkier chains and statement pieces. We’ve been doing pearls for a while and it’s really big now, so we’re bringing in larger burrow pearls and really little seed pearls.
Melissa: Is there any particular go-to clothing that you wear when you’re working or just on your feet for a long time?
Zoë Chicco: Since I had my son, more than anything else, I’m in flats only. I have a closet full of heels and I’m like, (laughing) I’m never gonna wear these. I’m just always running around, so sneakers, mules, slides…booties. I have a serious shoe problem. I mean who doesn’t? But I don’t discriminate. I’ve got Target shoes, and I’ve got Chanel. If they’re cute, I bought ‘em. I’m also having a real sneaker moment. I have these from Golden Goose (points at her feet) and I just got Soludos with rainbows. They are SO cute on, they’re incredibly comfortable and the leather is so soft—softer than any other show I have. So much so that I went and ordered them in plain white too. They’re the most comfortable sneakers I have.
Melissa: If you had to choose just one body part to stack jewelry on, which would it be?
Zoë Chicco: I stack everything, in case you couldn’t tell! Big stacker over here. If I had to pick one…I have a lot of rings and I wear them every single day, so I think I’d probably say rings. My bracelet situation is pretty real too. But I’ll say rings.