Jewelry Designer Zina Sherman on the “Inviting Glow” of Sterling Silver

After three decades in the jewelry biz, her love affair with sterling is still going strong

Now that silver is super-fashionable—not to mention ubiquitous in fine jewelry stores across the country—Zina Sherman could easily say, “I told you so!” She wouldn’t—the Los Angeles–based designer is far too genial and humble—but she could. She saw the appeal of sterling decades ago, long before the prohibitive price of gold began forcing artists to expand their precious metal offerings. When she was first starting out, silver was “really inexpensive,” Sherman says. But a major part of the metal’s allure, she adds, was its “inviting glow.” Zina Sterling Silver now comprises well over a dozen ­collections, including pins, cufflinks, and all-too-rare ­contemporary pieces such as clip earrings. And don’t expect her to go for the gold (or platinum or brass) anytime soon. The best thing about designing in silver? Says Sherman: “The sky is the limit.”

With son Andrew

Age: Can you keep a secret? So can I.

Number of years in the biz: 30

Number of employees you oversee: 20–25

Family and pets: Two children, two grandchildren, one granddog. My son and daughter-in-law work with me. I am truly blessed.

Describe your personal style: Adventurous with an edge

First piece you ever designed: Triple wave ring and it is still in the line.

Zina’s Fireworks pin

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: The Fireworks pin: What a winner it has been!

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Go for it—and if you fall, I’ll be there.” —Dad

Worst piece of advice: I forgot that long ago.

First job ever: My dad’s factory on Canal Street in New York City

How did you get started designing jewelry? Moved to California…and you just go with what you know.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Designing and building homes, or shooting for National Geographic

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Silver baroque pearls on leather around my neck

On your desk right now: Lots of family photos, iPhone, mail, waxes, and models

On your playlist: Anything by Pink Martini, Earl Klugh, or Steve Tyrell

Seville drop earrings

Exercise regimen: Yoga, hiking, and swimming

What did you have for breakfast? Strawberry protein shake (when I’m being good)

Guilty pleasure: Reading the New York Post on my iPad

Drink (daytime/evening): Coffee/vodka

First website you check every day (not your own!):

Contemporary wire cuff

Scent: Cassis by Fresh

How do you unwind? Cooking for family and friends and anyone willing to try something new

Favorite thing to do in L.A.: Work and plan my next trip

Superstitious? Nah

Books you’re reading: Plenty and Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi (great cookbooks)

WBook you’ve been meaning to get to: Steve Jobs

Preferred news source: The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and idle gossip

Main means of transportation: Convertible and walking

Favorite movies: Something’s Gotta Give and Out of Africa

Who would play you in your life story? Diane Keaton

Personal motto: “If being good isn’t working, try being outrageous.”

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+ Penny Preville on Luxury, Blue Gems, and Guilty Pleasures
+ Jennifer Dawes Dishes on Personal Style, Emeralds, and Why She Quit Her First Job
+ Sylvie Levine on the Highs and Lows of Bridal Jewelry Design