Among the many jewellery houses that have shaped modern jewellery over the course of the 20th century, only a handful can truly lay claim to an aesthetic style that is all theirs. Of these, even fewer have been able to stay as consistently faithful to that signature style over the decades. David Webb is one of these.
The enduring image of David Webb is intrinsically tied to his ascent to fame amidst the glamour of early 1960’s America.
His designs made an impression on some of the most influential jewellery collectors of the era, perhaps most prominently Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994). His status as the pre-eminent American jeweller was astutely recognized by the First Lady.
Webb’s animal-themed jewels were a particular favorite among a wealth of famous clientele, for example, the Duke of Windsor, who bought an enamelled frog bangle as a surprise gift for the Duchess in March 1964.
He also found a following in Hollywood: his chimera bangles, themselves a vigorous reinvention of similar traditional Indian jewellery designs and later versions by Cartier, joined the menagerie of Elizabeth Taylor, and a number of his other striking designs also found their way into the collections of stars such as Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Merle Oberon.
This remarkable career was tragically cut short – David Webb died of pancreatic cancer in 1975, at the age of just 50. Despite this devastating loss, the company has continued, producing jewels remarkably in keeping with the spirit, imagination and quality that defined Webb’s enduring style, still from the workshop above his flagship store overlooking the bustle of New York’s Madison Avenue.
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