Stephen Webster is one cool guy. Jeweler to the hip and famous, he’s built a brand around his unique, edgy style. Take one look at his pieces and you’ll see that he takes his art seriously, mixing gorgeous gemstones and precious metals with his inimitable contemporary style. The four-time British ‘Luxury Jeweler of the Year’ winner was in town recently promoting his line at Neiman Marcus and was kind enough to answer some questions.
LN: You began designing jewelry at a young age 16. What drew you to the profession?
SW: I was actually going to study fashion design at college and by chance walked into a jewelry design class by mistake. The flames, noise, chemicals and shiny objects were instantly appealing, and much more up my alley than fashion design. I guess it was a good choice, as 31 years later I’m still at it!
LN: What/who influenced your early designs? Has your aesthetic changed over the years?
SW: I’ve always taken inspiration from so many great jewelry traditions. I try to take traditional themes and create a modern twist to them. Our latest collection, Fly by Night, is a clear example of a traditional fairy tale with a modern, dark twist.
LN: Many of your pieces have an edgy, rock and roll vibe. How does music (and the musicians who wear your pieces) influence your designs? Are you a musician yourself?
SW: My latest men’s collection, London Calling, is directly inspired by the punk era and my favorite band The Clash. And, of course, I guess you could say that Christina Aguilera is my muse, as she has been the inspiration behind the whole women’s silver collection. I wish I could say that I play an instrument; I’ve tried for many years to learn to play the guitar, but that’s just not one of my talents!
LN: What, besides music, inspires you?
SW: The sea, gems, film noir, tattoos, rose bushes, broken glass, architecture, fish bones!! You never know what triggers it in the end.
LN: Your collections are so varied; do you have a favorite?
SW: I think I would have to say the Crystal Haze collection. After all, it put us on the map. It’s not just a design but more of a concept that I’ve developed after years of playing with crystal and other colored gemstones. We use a faceted layer of rock crystal on top of a thin layer of a colored gem, creating the most unusual and breathtaking color combinations. People are still fascinated by the play of light in Crystal Haze, and I’m sure it will always be something people associate us with.
LN: If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing?
SW: I love writing, so I’d like to say that I’d have my own newspaper column.
LN: Who was the first celebrity to wear your designs?
SW: Elizabeth Taylor; it was such an honor to see one of the world’s most beautiful women in Stephen Webster jewelry.
LN: Jewelry and fashion go hand in hand. Do any particular clothing designers influence you?
SW: We like to keep our eye on the trends and I respect the work of fashion designers; however, I wouldn’t say that they influence what I do.
LN: What’s next for Stephen Webster?
SW: I want to build a global niche brand that offers jewelry that allows my customer’s personality to show through, nothing to do with following the pack or being safe.