David Webb, Classic New York Jeweler

By Frank Everett

18 Karat Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Emerald Bracelet, David Webb. Estimate $80,000-120,000.

NEW YORK - David Webb is having a moment. The iconic New York jeweler whose devoted clientele included Doris Duke, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is turning up everywhere. The brand has revamped with an edgy, fashion-forward ad campaign. Last fall, Assouline published a beautiful and comprehensive book entitled David Webb, The Quintessential American Jeweler.  Earlier this month the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach mounted a gorgeous retrospective exhibition, David Webb: Society’s Jeweler. I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Norton exhibition with Gary Schuler, Director of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department, where we saw a number of our clients wearing pieces purchased in our sales.

Pair of Platinum and Diamond Pendant-Earclips, David Webb. Estimate $70,000-90,000.

Webb pieces have even appeared recently on the red carpet worn by Hollywood actresses including Jennifer Garner, Helen Mirren and Sofia Vergara. Webb’s bold and unique style emphasizes volume, yellow gold and colored stones, making him a perfect choice for photo ops. In his heyday in the 1960s, Webb pieces were in high demand in Hollywood. He was given prominent screen credit in the films Madame X, The Thrill of it All and Backstreet in which, respectively, Lana Turner, Doris Day and Susan Hayward loaded on the Webb jewels. I can’t remember the last time I saw “Jewels by…” as the film credits rolled.

. Estimate $60,000-80,000.

Although David Webb the artist passed away in 1975, David Webb the brand lives on as does his design aesthetic. The house continues to draw from his rich and meticulous archives, with many of his original designs still in production today. As a designer, David Webb was nothing if not adventurous.  Weekly visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art inspired Webb to incorporate motifs from around the world, including ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian, as well as pre-Columbian, Indian and Chinese. His bold use of color utilized oversized pieces of coral, turquoise and jade, as well as ruby and emerald beads. Webb jewels are certainly not for the shrinking violet. There is nothing delicate, subtle or understated about them, and the woman who chooses Webb has confidence in her style and a definite point of view.

18 Karat Gold, Platinum and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, David Webb. Estimate $25,000-35,000.

There is one more very important quality of the David Webb client: she’s a collector. She is never satisfied with just one bracelet, but prefers two or three cuffs stacked on one wrist. And full suites are not a problem . . . she has no fear of “matchy-matchy.” At Sotheby’s we consistently see David Webb pieces do well in our jewelry sales. Most of the pieces in our December 11 Magnificent Jewels sale sold at or above their high estimate.

And one more place you will find David Webb? On the catalogue cover for our Important Jewels sale on February 6th. Lot 347, the magnificent tiger bracelet in gold, platinum, diamonds and emeralds (Estimate $80,000-120,000) is just one of several beautiful David Webb pieces in the sale. Other lots include: 346, 125, 109 and are shown above.

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