SURREAL GENERATION continues the Iconic designs series. Today we introduce the 3rd chapter about the quintessential American jeweler – David Webb.
In 1957 David Webb made his first animal-inspired bracelet. By the end of the 1960s, precious animals became a must-have for the smart set, and David Webb turned into a synonym of animal jewelry in the USA. He wasn’t the only one to create bestiary designs in the 1960s, but you would never confuse Webb’s animals with those created by another brand – they are just funny and lovely, without any significant concept behind them. What pieces of the Kingdom collection express is simply the designer’s attraction to the animal world, which he loves sharing with his devoted clients. The Duchess of Windsor enjoyed a frog bracelet and earrings. A zebra bangle was undoubtedly among the favorite pieces of Diana Vreeland. The very zebra has become the brand’s mascot and was the first piece purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art to be included in the museum’s permanent collection.
David Webb was fascinated by gold. The designer studied golden ornaments from ancient civilizations in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and tried to enact similar effects in a workshop. Museum objects inspired Webb to the creation of antique-look big golden pieces unmistakably related to archaic ornaments and architectural elements of old-world civilizations. These total-gold pieces appeared to be ultra-modern and easy to combine with different outfits from casual to fancy. People would like them. Estee Lauder and Jacqueline Kennedy had Hammered Gold in their jewelry collections. That was only the beginning of the Hammered Gold series which with the years grew and became one of the leitmotifs of Webb’s style. Today the Maison can boast of 39 different textures of gold to play with.
Not all of Webb’s Hammered gold series is about antiquity. Much of his production took off from modernity as well. Things such as the 57th Street collection, and also many Animal pieces in textured gold.
Rock Crystal Twilight
Of all the high-end jewelry Maisons, none has ever used rock crystal as much as David Webb. Carved or polished, combined with precious gems or enamel, surrounded by colors or kept monochrome – the variety of rock crystal pieces is impressive. Twilight ornaments are not as bold as his colored pieces, which make them an option for those who are not ready to jump into striking color combinations yet. Rock crystal, the transparent type of quartz, can be seen as an alternative to diamonds artistically-wise: it’s transparent, colorless, and glowy. Unlike diamonds, rock crystal is easy to cut and carve, and there are no strict rules to follow in it. This freedom allows a designer to create any game of light and reflections they want. Though diamonds are diamonds, and they are not missing. Almost every piece in the Twilight series is set with colorless diamonds next to rock crystal.
gems (optionally) – the recipe of another iconic collection by David Webb. Since the ’70s, pieces from the Manhattan Minimalism series have been a statement of modern elegance and new femininity. Take the famous Shoelace Cuff inspired by an item that for centuries tortured women in exchange for a desirable silhouette – a corset. At Webb’s workshop, a corset was rethought as a stylish ornament, perfect in its simplicity and surely unable to cause faint. Most pieces of this collection are inspired by architectural elements of modern urbanism like crosswalks, radiators, tires, or doorknockers.
Image Credits: David Webb, davidwebb.com
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