The Inspired Imagination of Jewelry Designer David Webb

The Inspired Imagination of Jewelry Designer David Webb

Discover the vibrant designs of a mid-century American favorite.

Discover the vibrant designs of a mid-century American favorite.

David Webb Diamond and Enamel Tiger Lily Brooch shown on the model. New York Jewels: Online Auction.

Featured in Phillips’ “New York Jewels: Online Auction” from 21–28 February are several exemplary designs by the inimitable David Webb.

Among the most distinguished and beloved American jewelry designers of our time, David Webb is renowned for his bold and sculptural designs that capture the essence of mid-20th century glamor.

The designer’s workshop, which opened in 1948, still thrives and continues to delight us with the modernity of its designs and its craftsmanship and color. The most coveted designs feature jewel-adorned animals including zebras, giraffes, frogs, and all the big cats, sculpted and decorated with the most captivating enameled colors and gemstones.

David Webb Emerald, Ruby and Diamond Tiger Ring. New York Jewels: Online Auction.

Webb drew emphatically from nature, mythology, and art from around the world. Born in 1925 in Asheville, North Carolina, he developed a deep appreciation for craftsmanship at an early age working as an apprentice in his uncle’s silversmithing shop. Pursuing his passion for jewelry design, he moved to New York City in 1948. “I had a tremendous feeling for art in me,” he said.

Since the opening of his New York workshop, all of his designs have been made in-house by a highly skilled team of craftsmen who set gems, paint enamel, carve stones, and hand-hammer and engineer all the magic of a Webb design.

David Webb Enamel, Emerald and Diamond Snake Pendant Brooch. New York Jewels: Online Auction.

As his dedication to excellence earned him a reputation as one of the finest jewelry designers, his pieces began to be featured in fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country. In 1964, his distinctive carved and hand-painted animal designs won him the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award. The world took notice and Webb’s designs became highly sought-after by celebrities, socialites, and collectors alike. His clients included such iconic figures as Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Gloria Vanderbilt.

David Webb Emerald and Snake Choker. New York Jewels: Online Auction.

When David Webb sadly passed away at the age of 50, his business partner assumed control. Subsequently, the company was sold to new owners. But the workshop has never stopped producing Webb’s designs. Today, drawing from an extensive archive of over 40,000 drawings, the designer’s complicated sculptural works continue to be made for the designer’s dedicated clientele.



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