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I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss something about this.
Series diodes don’t work as well as Zeners but they are useful (dV/dI is higher) and your suggestion for this application is a good one.
Another trick is the reverse biased emitter to base junction of a silicon transistor can be used as a “poor man’s Zener” with a voltage drop of 5 volts or so. Just don’t exceed the dissipation rating.