Stephen Webster, the London-based luxury jewellery brand internationally heralded for its exquisite and cutting edge designs continues to flourish under its founder and creative director, Stephen Webster. Taking inspiration from music, fashion, literature and art to produce contemporary, bold and glamorous collections, this unique approach to fine jewellery has been some 40 years in the making.
With fashion and jewellery as dazzling and devastatingly glamorous co-conspirators, each luxurious aesthetic in Stephen Webster’s collections celebrates traditional skills and great British craftsmanship. Webster’s interest in the craft of jewellery was first piqued as a teenage boy when his parents gifted him a gold cross, but leaving school he chose, at first, to study fashion. Quickly, he switched from frocks to rocks: “I’d never thought about jewellery before, but immediately, here was a combination of something I could understand; a workshop, tools, chemicals and flames, and then this beautiful, polished, wonderful thing that came out of it all” he says. “That was it for me. It was no longer about drawing; it was about the craftsmanship involved in this business. I spent the next ten years making myself the best craftsman I could be, constantly challenging myself with what I could do”.
Coveted by idols and icons from the worlds of movies and music, admirers of the brand include Madonna, Kate Moss, Christina Aguilera, Amber Heard, Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Kate Beckinsale and Charlize Theron. While working in Santa Barbara, California in the late 1980s, Stephen Webster had his first brush with a bonafide A-List celebrity. Elizabeth Taylor fell for a rose gold ring engraved with flowers and set with a lavender chalcedony, a bracelet was then commissioned by the enamoured, sparkle-loving super star. Similar was to follow: “Soon, Michael Douglas came by” says Webster, “and then Goldie Hawn”. Since then, the Stephen Webster signature of avant-garde design and witty, contemporary references has proved a reliably bold statement on the red carpet, in glossy magazines and on film. A key moment came in 1999, during a Phoenix trade show when Webster was contacted by Trish Summerville, then stylist to Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Pink. Summerville was styling the burlesque-themed ‘Lady Marmalade' music video that starred Aguilera and Pink and wanted to feature Stephen Webster’s jewellery.
In 2000 Webster was commissioned to make wedding rings for Madonna’s marriage to film director Guy Ritchie and in 2008 Christina Aguilera inspired a Stephen Webster diffusion collection, ‘Muse’ and starred in a series of advertising campaigns for the brand. Kate Beckinsale gifted her husband a clash inspired “London Calling" ring because, she said, “it is our song!”. "Mine is jewellery that gets noticed” explains Webster. “It works well in the celebrity world because particular pieces are larger than life and flamboyant…and so are many film stars and musicians. But I’ve never been obsessed with the glitz and glamour” he adds. “I’ve been obsessed with being the best craftsman I can be. I apply that to everything I do and I think people understand that. We are jewellers. We are not celebrities”.
Initially, the strictly mannered discipline of making jewellery provided a rigorous set of regulations and parameters that suited the brand; the notion of structure, balance, setting and proportion, the application of time-honoured hand crafted techniques and processes. But as the brand has developed, Webster acknowledges that he’s had to learn to evolve from being a craftsman jeweller to a haute jewellery designer, all the time maintaining a standard of uncompromising quality, finish and detail.
The most cutting-edge collections, the ones who dare to be different, are the ones that have defined both the brand and Stephen Webster’s skill and reputation as a jewellery designer. “The maverick pieces that tick all the boxes for fine jewellery and craftsmanship but also have the nerve to be unusual and from the left field, may seem outrageous and audacious at first…but they are the ones people tend to remember”.