If there is one jeweler who captures the bold, elegant style of sophisticated New Yorkers, David Webb must be it. His bright gold eye-catching jewelry has always appealed to women of unflinching style. Since David Webb opened his store in Manhattan almost seventy years ago, his distinctive jewelry is always been in style and highly sought after by collectors. Almost all jewelry auctions at Doyle offer a selection of David Webb’s distinctive pieces.
Born in Ashville, North Carolina in 1925 and raised during the Great Depression, David Webb devoted his life to creating beauty out of everything. According to the biography David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler by Ruth Peltason (Assouline: 2013), Webb filled his childhood with sketching and drawing, and fashioning copper creations glittered with shiny pebbles. His desire for greater opportunity, and his jeweler family’s influence, led him to open a shop in New York’s Diamond District in 1948 at the young age of 23.
David Webb approached jewelry as art. His designs were not simply accessories to be worn, but rather, objects to be admired. During his years designing and creating jewelry, Webb made weekly visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, immersing himself in the Museum’s vast collections and gathering inspiration from all corners of the world. These symbols and icons are visible in his works, such as this bracelet and earclips that capture the color and motif of this clip brooch. Other patterns clearly visible in his pieces are incorporated in this cuff bracelet, earclips and bangle bracelet. Webb never shied away from color or the bold use of gold. His pieces commonly feature carved bright emeralds, the pinkest corals, vivid robin’s egg blue turquoise and rubies, punctuated by brilliant diamonds in counterpoint. He saw the body as canvas and the jewelry as paint.
Perhaps Webb’s most recognizable enamel designs are of animal motifs. Unafraid of scale, the large animal head bangle bracelet or ring, inspired by an Indian sea monster, is one of his most popular designs and was created in many variations. Webb’s mastery of minute detail makes the animals appear as if they could jump off the wearer’s wrist or hand. This whimsical quality makes his designs so fun to wear, and so beloved by collectors.
From his earliest years producing his colorful and distinctive designs, Webb garnered the attention of Bergdorf Goodman department store, Vogue magazine, and countless stylish women, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor. Jewelry by David Webb continues its appeal today, with clients such as Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner.
Too soon, Webb passed away in 1975, but his vibrant legacy lives on at the house of David Webb on Madison Avenue. His original designs and drawings are still being reproduced by a new generation, and his works will be a staple of stylish women for years to come.