Stephen Webster (b. 1959) In a GQ article written by Nick Foulkes, entrepreneur and designer, Stephen Webster, is described as “the man who puts the rocks into rock’n’roll.” Webster is one of the most prominent jewelry designers of his generation. After thirty-eight years of exquisite craftsmanship and fearless creativity, the British-born Webster has evolved his brand into a global luxury jewelry name. Coveted by icons and idols, the Stephen Webster brand is celebrated for creating modern jewelry classics with a timeless chic and glamorous aesthetic.
Born in Gravesend, Kent, Stephen Webster was educated at Gravesend Grammar School and later at the Medway College of Design (now the University for the Creative Arts, Rochester).
After completing training under Tony Shepherd, a master jeweler, Webster worked as a craftsman for several established London design houses. As he progressed from working for others to establishing his eponymous, cutting-edge brand, and serving as its creative director, Webster took inspiration from music, fashion, literature and art. He then produced contemporary, bold and glamorous collections. His unique approach to fine jewelry has been more than forty-years in the making.
Webster began his apprenticeship at a workbench in London’s Hatton Garden at the age of 16. His time at the distinctly British institution inspired Webster’ ongoing passion for traditional goldsmithing that remains at the heart of today’s Stephen Webster brand.
Webster’s interest in the craft of jewelry was first inspired as a teenager when his parents gave him a gold cross. His first field of study was fashion. Quickly, he switched from frocks to rocks according to the brand’s official website.
“I’d never thought about jewelry 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.”
With a combination of innovative design, uncompromising attention to detail, together with the finest materials, the brand continues to dazzle by interpreting modern and diverse imagery through traditional, precision craftsmanship.
Inspired by diverse subjects that include the pop culture iconography of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album cover, Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” or reinterpreting the plumage of England’s game birds, Webster creations are fine jewelry-that tells a story. The brand has over 150 points of sale worldwide and a flagship store in London. Webster’s work has become synonymous with thought provoking, iconic, and infinitely beautiful jewelry.
Recasting the role of the contemporary, luxury jeweler as an artist and forward-thinking designer rather than mere artisanal technician, Stephen Webster’s approach has always been unique and forward thinking. With fashion and jewelry as dazzlingly glamorous co-conspirators, each luxurious piece in Webster’s collections celebrate traditional skills and great British craftsmanship.
The genius of Webster’s designs is finding inspiration for fine jewelry in every aspect of life. Freewheeling, open minded and multi-faceted, the designs are thought provoking and unpredictable while always remaining rooted in craftsmanship and exquisite detail.
Initially, the strict discipline of making jewelry provided a rigorous set of regulations and parameters that suited the brand; the notions of structure, balance, setting, and proportion. It also incorporates time-honored, hand crafted techniques and processes. However, as the brand has developed, Webster has had to learn to evolve from being a craftsman jeweler to an haute jewelry designer while maintaining a standard of uncompromising quality, finish, and detail.
He says, “I went from being commissioned to create specific pieces to being able to indulge in my own creativity, from being told what to make, to making things the way I wanted them”
As the brand grew in stature and international repute during the early 1990s, a signature style and design sensibility developed. “A bold luxurious look,” Webster comments. “In terms of materials I’ve always approached design from a maximalist point of view. Even now, when I’m getting excited about a gem it will instantly translate into the design of a collection,” he says.
Each luxurious piece in Stephen Webster’s collections celebrates traditional skills and great British craftsmanship. His creations include bracelets and cuffs, earrings, necklaces, rings, silver, and items for men.
His current collections are named, Belle Epoque, Couture Voyage, Deco, Dynamite, Fish Tales, Fly By Night, Forget Me Knot, I Promise To Love You, Jewels Verne, Jitterbug, Lady Stardust, Love Me, Love Me Not, Magnipheasant, Mens, Silver, Thames, Thorn, and White Kites.
According to Webster’s official website, his popularity among celebrities and movie stars began with his association with Elizabeth Taylor. While working in Santa Barbara, California in the late 1980s, Webster had his first brush with celebrity when Taylor fell in love with a rose gold ring engraved with flowers and set with a lavender chalcedony. A bracelet was later commissioned by her. More celebrities followed. “Soon, Michael Douglas came by,” says Webster. “And then Goldie Hawn.”
Since then, the Stephen Webster signature of 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 Webster’s jewelry. Both singers became dedicated fans later commissioning Stephen to make their respective wedding bands. A five-carat diamond and platinum ring with princess cut diamonds and hand filigree detailing for Christina. His and hers platinum bands, engraved with the words “Til Death” for Pink and husband Carey Hart.
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.
In 2016, Webster and Hearts On Fire came together for a new collaboration. It was the first partnership between two revered brands and the first designer collaboration for Hearts On Fire.
The first collection was called White Kites and took its inspiration from magnificent birds of prey. The design for this high-end, all diamond collection – a first for Webster – used only Hearts On Fire diamonds paired with white and rose gold. The result became a powerful collection that has bold Stephen Webster style, yet seamlessly displays the timeless beauty of Hearts On Fire diamonds.
The White Kites collection includes diamond collars, sparkling cocktail rings, statement cuffs, chandelier earrings and feminine ear cuffs, as well as delicate bracelets and necklaces. The collection is available at Hearts On Fire and Stephen Webster retail boutiques worldwide, as well as select department stores.
Webster has been the recipient of numerous awards that began in 1978 when he received the first of his eight Goldsmiths Craft Council Awards. In 1982, he received a De Beers honor (the first of two) for setting the De Beers Diamond Stakes Trophy.
After receiving the De Beers honor in 1982, Webster relocated to Canada to design for an independent jeweler. Following a brief return to the UK in 1984, Webster found a market for his jewelry in California.
It took some time however, before he established his U.S. flagship store in the Golden State. Webster opened his boutique in Beverly Hills to control the retail experience in one of the locations where his jewelry is sold.
When he moved in, he reached an agreement with his landlord to tear out the walls and low ceilings of the second floor — previously used as office space — to make it the wide-open loft he envisioned. Now, open to the rafters, it takes full advantage of the panoramic views of Wilshire Avenue and Rodeo Drive.
Since its establishment more than twenty-five years ago, the craftsmanship, innovation and artistry of Stephen Webster’s fine jewelry has attracted a loyal following. 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, Poppy Delevingne, and Charlize Theron.