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In Conversation with the House of David Webb by Broken English Jewelry
Designer Profiles

In Conversation with the House of David Webb

"The Wondrous World of David Webb"

The iconic American jewelry house founded in 1948 in New York City has maintained a cult following since its 1960’s heyday with legendary clientele including Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor. A piece of David Webb jewelry is recognizable for its bold and graphic aesthetic, one of which Broken English founder Laura has long been a fan of. Among our large contemporary and vintage Webb offerings, weighty cocktail rings, especially the iconic nail ring, are mainstays in the Broken English collection. Levi Higgs, Head of Archives and Brand Heritage at David Webb walked us through the in’s and out’s of what makes a piece from the brand so covetable and how craftsmanship is at the forefront of the house’s identity.

What makes a David Webb design so unique?

David Webb is known for its bold design and confident scale. Even the smallest pieces in the collection have a certain power to them. David Webb jewelry touches on many different design themes but we see our strengths in 5 distinct pillars: hammered gold, enamel, ancient world themes, rock crystal, Animalia.

Can you share some of the steps that go into creating a new design?

While many of the iconic David Webb jewels are designs that have been continuously created since the 1960s and 70s, we are also able to draw upon endless original source material within the house’s vast archive. It comprises more than 40,000 original renderings and sketches; the majority of which have never been created into physical pieces. With an original sketch as the starting point, our designers work alongside our CAD team to 3D render a road map of how to build the jewel. From there it is in the hands of our master artisans to bring each new piece to life

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Who makes up the team in the workshop and how does a piece get finished?

The David Webb workshop team consists of about 20-25 artisans, including a foreman, an enamellist (only the third one ever employed by the company), gemstone and diamond setters, jewelers, stone carvers, and polishers. Any given piece will pass through a number of specialists’ hands who have been honing their craft for decades, but the number of hours it takes to complete a jewel depends on the individual design. For instance, the hours it takes to finish a hand-enameled Zebra bracelet will differ from carving a rock crystal and diamond cuff.

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Tell us about what makes the David Webb studio and workshop such a special place?

It is rare indeed to have every aspect of a heritage brand under one roof. The David Webb corporate offices, archive and workshop are all housed above our boutique on Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

What are some things we can expect from David Webb in the near future?

This fall, David Webb will put on its first in-house exhibition, A Walk in the Woods, that will celebrate its long legacy of animal jewelry and showcase a few pieces created from the archive for the first time.

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