“I hate that people keep their jewels in the safe” – Stephen Webster on wearing jewellery
Take one quick look at the Stephen Webster logo and you’ll instantly realise that there’s no hint of conformism in the way this London-based jewellery brand goes about its business.
The science-fictiony font matched with the Blade-esque triangular emblem immediately gives you an idea of what the design house stands for at core. You’ll see individuality, irreverence, a resounding call to express one’s self – one tough niche to carve in the luxury market where every other brand strives for the gleaming facade of exclusivity.
And yet the brand did it. Quite successfully, might we add. Under the creative leadership of its founder Stephen Webster. And it is this unconventional method of getting there that got us interested in speaking one-on-one with the designer himself.
Read on as Webster tells us of his beginnings that moulded him into the avante-garde talent he is now, of landing Elizabeth Taylor as his first celebrity client, and of his opinions on wearing jewellery as opposed to keeping them locked up where nobody can admire them.
We learned that you began your love affair with jewellery design when you were in college. Can you tell us specifically who/what influenced you to pursue jewelry design?
I trained at the Medway College in Kent then I took an apprenticeship in Canada when I finished my course and was very lucky to work with a man with an incredible passion and knowledge of gems.
I was fascinated by the different stones I was given and at the same time I was allowed a complete freedom to work with them. This was the job where I built my confidence as a designer and maker and learned how to communicate with a client.
We know that doing what you love has also its ups and downs. How do you remain passionate about your craft?
I really think everyone should look at the roots and the core of their business and remind themselves why their customers originally went to them.
What was unique about your product that attracted your customers? For us, our customers want something that’s extraordinary with big personality and this is what we try to provide them with each in collection.
Who among the A-listers gave you your much-deserved recognition? Can you still remember how you felt then? How rewarding was the experience?
Elizabeth Taylor was my first celebrity client; she bought one of my classic crystal haze rings which is still one of our bestsellers today. It was an amazing feeling to see arguably the most glamorous woman in the world wearing my designs. Since then we’ve dressed everyone from Madonna to Mickey Rourke.
What is it in jewellery design that you love most?
I work with the finest materials, create things that make people happy and get to see the world too. I travel about five months of the year but luckily, I have a very understanding family. We laugh a lot. Even our 12 year old daughter has a wicked sense of humour. Her headmaster has commented.
Any specific jewellery design that you treasure the most? For whom did you do it?
I made a ring for my mum when I was at college. It was the first piece of jewellery I ever made.
Stephen Webster with his wife Assia
What kind of jewellery should a woman wear at all times? How does this make her confident and beautiful?
No jewellery should be too precious to wear. I hate that people keep their jewels in the safe; the whole point is for people to enjoy wearing them. Look for pieces you’ll get a lot of use out of and will work with a variety of different looks. It may be as simple as an eternity ring or it may even be a striking fashion piece but choose one that will work for you.
Since jewellery is a piece of investment, how does one choose among the pieces to buy?
Jewellery has to be more and more individual and extraordinary. Jewellery should say something about yourself, your life and the choices you make.
As a brand, how do you describe your competitive edge? What makes Stephen Webster stand out, especially when there are similar brands out there going for the same market (such as David Yurman)?
It has always been my passion to cultivate jewellery collections that push all creative boundaries; are high on innovatory and are unreservedly cool. All of my work is a reflection of my personality. I am fortunate that selfishly, I have pursued topics and inspirations from my life’s experiences and translated them into our many collections. Within all of them there is vibrancy. I am a cheery fellow.
What else do you aspire for as a designer and brand owner?
Continued expansion into the emerging markets and further development of brand extensions with a lifestyle element is on the agenda. Developing new categories such as Sunglasses, accessories, watches as well as new jewellery collections. Each week a new project comes up… variety is the spice of life!
Stephen Webster is available in Dubai at Azal, Emirates Towers (Tel. 04-3686179)