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We will be closed Monday, 7/1 through Friday, 7/5, reopening Monday, 7/8

In His Own Words: Collecting David Webb

In August, 1963, David Webb subbed in to write the Herald Tribune's "In Fashion" syndicated column or his friend Eugenia Sheppard, the top critic of the Sixties. The article is a Webb manifesto advocating for "jewels with personality", hailing the "great force of color", and calling for jewels to be "treated as great works of art, which they surely are". The influencers of the 1960s - from Elizabeth Taylor to "It-Girl" Marisa Berenson - loved Webb for the way his jewelry expressed their own originality, and embodied the free spirit of their times.

"Nobody has ever done anything like this." The New Yorker called Webb the City's "creative meteor". Inspired by the stylized animals of Egypt, Greece and Rome, Webb's jewels prove his mantra that "Jewelry and objects of art four thousand years old are newer than anything we have today". He found his best inspiration spending "two days a month wandering through the Greek and Roman galleries" at his favorite encyclopedic collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met's tour-de-force carved rock crystal animal bracelets inspired the "bejeweled menagerie" that made Webb an "internationally famed jeweler".

Left: One of a pair of rock crystal bracelets with gold rams' heads, Greek ca. 330–300 BCE, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Right: Designed in 1963. A Webb Zebra bracelet is held in the collection of the Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Transformed by Webb's modern vision, animal jewels came alive on the most beautiful people of the 1960s, becoming "the most coveted knick knack in jewelrydom". Zebras, leopards, tigers, and giraffes, in enamel, colored stones and diamonds, were among Webb's hit jungle animals. They live on not only in the jewelry boxes of Hollywood, but also in museums like The Met.  Designed in 1965, this "chic and sleek" white tiger has been an elite favorite ever since.

Sculptural forms reigned alongside the abstract and graphic. His teardrop earrings abstracted from the stripes of jungle beasts have been beloved since he made a zebra version for Diana Vreeland, legendary Vogue editor and founder of the Costume Institute.

Left: Liz Taylor sports a David Webb white enamel animal bracelet; Right: Diana Vreeland wearing her Webb enamel zebra pattern tear drop earings
"The unusual rather than the accepted" and "the chunky impressive jewel..." Stylish women flocked to Webb for the way he upended formal jewelry by injecting glamor with fun. The Met's ancient gold jewelry from Greek, Sumerian and Mayan cultures had inspired him to play fearlessly with this most belov
ed metal of the gods - texturing, hammering, and using it unsparingly to create bold, often one-of a kind forms such as this "Crosshatch" bracelet.
"Structure and color are necessary for good design." Webb swept away the all-diamond formality of the 1950s by massing vividly colored gems, lapis, jades and corals, leading the New York Post to observe "Mixing stones and multicolor is a Webb signature".
Letting gems pour through his hands was part of his practice: "I take a box of stones and I say to myself this is what I'll make." His strong designs gave structure to these riots of bold color. Indian jewelry's vivid hues and voluminous forms inspired opulent Webb jewels including necklaces and earrings set with masses of cabochon rubies, emeralds, or both.  Webb declared - and it remains true- "The look today is color."
"We do everything from the raw material..." Webb is the ultimate "buy local" luxury product. Since the firm's founding, nearly 100 men and women, and some of their sons and daughters, have created all of Webb's jewelry in his light-filled workshops directly upstairs from the salon. Another of Webb's signature raw materials is rock crystal. Whether faceted, ribbed, domed, or made into animals or flowers, Webb loved to sculpt crystal: "I carve it..." It-Girl Marisa Berenson "always wore masses of David Webb's rock crystal jewelry." His voluminous crystal rings are mysterious and full of light, and his appealing, chunky animals sparkle playfully.
Left: David Webb Rock Crystal and Hammered Gold Bombé Ring ;Middle:  Right: Rock Crystal "Crouching Lion"; Right: Daughter of Elsa Schiaparelli Marisa Berenson, wearing her Webb Rock Crystal Ring and Bracelet, accompanied by Andy Warhol
"I think a warm atmosphere is important. The feeling that people can come in and browse around..." Famously private, yet "a friend to a lot of people", Webb roseto become the jeweler of Hollywood, fashion, and high society because he listened to women at the avant- garde. His creations were in high demand for 1960s Vogue and Harpers Bazaar photo shoots with top models , and his work appealed across generations. Power couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were unable to resist a spree in Webb's salon, said to be "as "busy as a supermarket on a Saturday morning". Nonetheless, Webb jewelry does not take itself too seriously. 
"Design is the most important thing." Webb's work is well-designed in practical ways - his hoop earrings, for example, have just the right amount of movement. With his artisans at hand, he could make sure the jewels embodied his vision, and were "museum quality". His work was grouped in exhibitions with Schlumberger and Verdura. Youthful and bold, expressing his love of timeless art, Webb's work remains "always modern".
Webb Hoop Earrings "always move"
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