“The heartbeat of David Webb is in our archives. The archives contain 40,000 sketches and drawings. We’re still discovering new ones every day. We have two full-time archivists. Webb would make original sketches for clients who commissioned something. For instance, Doris Duke or Richard Burton. Fast forward to when we were going through our records. We knew she was a great client, but then we saw the drawings. They were limitless!
Elizabeth Taylor was crazy about Webb’s animals. She was mad for the big cats. She also had a white enamel horse. When Taylor filmed ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,’ she had Webb make wolf cufflinks for the entire cast. He even made ear clips and stickpins. We found invoices for orders like, “46 pairs of cufflinks.” She just gave them out to the cast and crew like candy. It’s the old studio system that’s so magically preserved here.
After we bought the company, we established that writing a book on David Webb was the first order of business. We set about organizing a team to make the book because there, somehow, hadn’t been one. Author and jewelry historian Ruth Peltason loves jewelry and has such experience, so she was a natural choice. Once she stepped in, she understood the work to be done. Our photographer had no experience with jewelry before, which was why we chose him. We wanted him to apply his own energetic viewpoint to jewelry. His lighting is extraordinary. There’s a muscularity and energy he applies to our jewelry that is hard to achieve. We encourage the close-up because when gold work is beautiful it holds up under very close scrutiny on a microscopic level. We didn’t want to hide anything. David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler took us three years.
What we have is the result of many years of many talented men that worked in the archives and on the molds. When you put everything together with the technology of today, it just comes together. We’re in the digital age and embrace technology. We started a program to digitally preserve our icons. The traditional method is through molds and models, which is still maintained, but we have a CAD department, which has several components. One is to preserve these great icons in digital form.” -David Webb owners, Mark Emanuel and Robert Saidian
Photography by Soraya Zaman.