Unravelled Stories. Meet: Nastja Zarić

Follow a trail of felt swan slippers, ceramic bows, and fresh lavender stems and you’ll discover the treasure that is jewellery-maker Nastja Zarić’s South Yarra home and studio. We recently had a chance to sit down with Nastja over a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice to discuss the intricate jewellery pieces that we’re lucky to stock in The Social Studio store. Zarić’s craft is a testament to the craftsmanship in her family history and her fairytale-like disposition. Adorned in romanticism and committed to sustainability, Zarić’s jewellery is a love letter to the earth.

Interview and photographs by Noor Hoblos. 

TSS: Can you tell us about your experience working with terracotta as a material for jewellery making? 

Nastja: Terracotta satisfies my affinity for working with earth-driven materials in an attempt to reconnect with nature, something that our modern society robs us of focusing on due partly to disposable consumption and convenience. It is something I connected with early in my practice. Since then, I’ve introduced other natural clays along with various other carefully sourced, up-cycled & found materials. 


TSS: Can you tell us about your cultural background and how it influences your jewellery making practice?

Nastja: I’m ex-Yugoslav — half Serbian, half Croatian, born in Slovenia. My practice began with the encouragement of my Dad (a potter) and my Mum (an ex-jeweller). Enthusiastic fondness for jewellery is something that I share with my mother, who has an extensive & eclectic jewellery collection. She’s full of sparkly-eyed ideas, even years after a career change. The members of my family are a constant source of collaboration, which plays on various cultural influences in my brand identity. There is a circular contemplation pertaining to family history and legacy. Regardless of how visibly these references are expressed stylistically...they are present.            

TSS: Can you discuss your approach to sustainability and the use of eco-friendly materials in your work? 

Nastja: The studio offers a repair, remake, or redesign service - regardless of when or where you purchased your ZARIĆ piece. This reflects my commitment to transparent design and the ongoing care & collaboration I wish to have with all my customers. Sustainability is an all-encompassing, non-negotiable part of the process. Working primarily with ceramics & sterling silver is gratifying for precisely this reason. These materials come from the earth, and one day they will go back. I find that up-cycling and tailoring is such a rewarding & resourceful way of life generally, and this philosophy is an integral part of my brand in all facets.

TSS: How have fashion and art inspired your jewellery practice? 

Nastja: Although there has been a natural refinement and progression over the years, the core aesthetic and ethos have always remained the same — bridging a line between colour expression, romantic costume, and Flintstone sculpture. These concepts are a recurring anchor, but the inspiration net is large! Designing with a maximalist approach, I believe jewellery is best collected in a way where it can be treasured, much like art. I’ve always cherished and drawn inspiration from FRUiTS fanzine books given to me as a teen, paintings by my sister Vanja, ceramic ornaments made by my grandmother, notes & souvenirs. 

TSS: How have you leveraged your diverse skillset to innovate and differentiate your practice? 

Nastja: The only constant in my working life has been my craft. Experiencing a diversity of industries has allowed me to exercise pretty polar opposite working atmospheres, and I enjoyed trying to strike a balance. This has ranged from playing nightclub bartender, private cook, and nanny, amongst other roles. As a self-taught maker, I have to learn many lessons the slow and hard way, which allows me to carve a new path altogether, having fun and experimenting along the way.

TSS: Can you share any exciting projects or plans for the future that you have in the works for ZARIĆ Jewellery? 

Nastja: I’m working on prototypes for a new collection at the moment — allowing for play and “hear me out” moments. Enthusiastic learning and crafting are on the forefront in these coming months, hopefully allowing me to lose track of time while doing so.