David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler

David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler

BY Ruth Peltason

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Jackie Kennedy compared him to Cellini. The Duchess of Windsor said he was today’s Fabergé, and The New Yorker described him as “the new meteor around town.”
Born in Asheville, North Carolina, David Webb became the go-to jeweler for society swans and Hollywood stars during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. At the height of his career, he operated two workshops with 200 master jewelers and 50 setters. David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler is the first monograph on this important designer who redefined mid-twentieth-century American jewelry.

The country was changing, and David Webb was in the center of it all—the right man at the right place at the right time. He understood that women wanted one-of-a-kind pieces, and Webb the designer made them jewelry that offered bold shapes and exuberant color. His signature animal bracelets and richly colored assortment of jewelry, all set in the warmth of his favorite yellow gold, has attracted a vast clientele over the decades, including Nan Kempner, Diana Vreeland, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonore Annenberg, Brooke Astor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Doris Duke, Mrs. Paul Mellon, Evelyn Lauder, Mitzi E. Newhouse, and Marisa Berenson.

From the time David Webb opened shop in 1948 at the age of 21, his jewelry has been made in America. The self-taught jeweler was influenced by a passion for art and ancient cultures, and today his archive includes more than 40,000 original drawings, sketches, and production records. This striking book, three years in the making and with specially commissioned photography of 300 pieces of jewelry, details Webb’s evolution as an artist and identifies his major collections. All of the jewelry has been carefully authenticated and described in detail, and is accompanied by Webb’s drawings, editorial from leading fashion magazines, photographs of the many women who adored his jewelry, and assorted ephemera.

Published on the occasion of the company’s 65th anniversary, this lavishly produced book honoring the man whose distinctly American jewelry can be summed up in two words: “Always modern.”

ISBN: 9781614281511
9.5 x 13.0 in - 24 x 33 cm
368 Pages | 150 Illustrations
Hardcover with jacket

About the Author
Ruth Peltason runs Bespoke Books, which produces books on the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor, Director of Design and Style Books at Abrams. She is also the author of several books, including most recently Living Jewels, and editor of Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry. She lectures on jewelry around the country.

Gia- "Books: David Webb – The Quintessential American Jeweler", April 30th, 2014
Click to read the online article

AD today (Italy)- "Un Moderno Cellini", February 8th, 2014
Click to read the online article

Vogue.fr- "Jewelry 2013: 15 Coffee Table Books", December 24th, 2013
Click to read the online article

Jewels du Jour - "Estate Jewelry Round Up: Wild Wild Webb", October 9th, 2013
Click to read the article

Gotham Magazine - "Dianne Vavra Picks an Archival Gem", October 5th, 2013
Click to read the article

The Jewellery Editor - September 2013
Click to read the article

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