When Jewelry Becomes Discovery

Lisa Ziff considers herself a jewelry “sculptor,” a tactile specificity that aligns with her lifelong fascination with organic forms. As a child growing up in Southern California, she would go on nature walks with her dad, a biology teacher and entomologist. “When I was younger, my dad and I used to beachcomb, and I still do that now—in a cityscape, on a trail, anywhere,” she recently told Ventura Blvd magazine

Befitting her beguiling definition of beachcombing as more of an instinct for seeing (less a site-specific act), the jewelry Ziff sculpts exudes the essence of nature: her “uniquely sensuous, easy-to-wear” pieces (as she so eloquently describes them) evoke “simple, everyday beauty.” As such, her designs feel as suited for an alpine night out as they do a stroll along a coastal boardwalk. This easy elegance appealed to Elisa Chambers as soon as she saw Ziff’s designs:

“The simplicity of it all is really remarkable—the beauty of their organic shapes, the eloquence of their satin-finished gold and precious stones. It’s all so beautifully done.”

Beyond an aesthetic affinity, Chambers and Ziff share an alignment of purpose; they both draw inspiration from nurturing their creative passion in tandem with their families. While studying design at UCLA, Ziff got a job as an assistant in Frank Gehry’s Venice studio. With her diploma in hand, she moved to Milan, where she worked for the famed architect Vittorio Gregotti and then avant-garde Studio Alchimia. In Italy, she marveled at the creative crossover of art and design, a fluidity that motivated her to return to graduate school and pursue a Master’s Degree in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. Returning to LA, she launched her own housewares line, selling her cast aluminum and glass designs to high-end boutiques and museum shops. Her young family—namely twins (!)—forced her to shift her focus from functional wares to wearable sculptures.

“Ultimately, making jewelry is very familiar,” she said. “I’m still sculpting, in wax rather than in clay. It’s smaller work. There was definitely a learning curve, and there still is. Every piece I make, I discover something new.”

This sense of freshness infuses Ziff’s entire collection. “Her organic designs are so chic and yet a little whimsical,” Chambers says. For instance, her Dahlia Earrings rise to the occasion of their namesake bloom with a delightfully open lattice of 10K gold, rimmed in diamonds; and her Birdcage Pendant sings with a green spear of Chalcedony peeking out from within a perfectly perforated teardrop, all dangling from an infinitely-wearable silver rhodium black chain. Her inspired juxtaposition of forms and materials channels the experience of spotting something surprisingly beautiful in nature. Of beachcombing with her dad.


Now years into her jewelry journey, Ziff remains enamored with the medium. “I lose track of time easily here,” she said of her LA studio, overlooking the Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains. “This is my happy place, my little escape.” We believe this sense of joyful refuge extends to everyone who wears her works of art.


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