David Webb

David Webb was a mid-20th-century American jewellery designer known for his colourful motifs, particularly his frog and zebra bangles. Today, these designs have become part of the David Webb vintage jewellery collection.

David Webb was born in 1925 in Asheville, North Carolina. While apprenticeship for his uncle who was in jewellery manufacturing, he developed a love of design. His ambition led him to New York. There, he met Antoinette Quilleret, a wealthy socialite who became his patron. In 1945, they opened a store together, firmly planting David Webb in the New York fashion scene. By the 1950s and 1960s, Webb’s clientele included movie stars and fashion icons such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy and Diana Vreeland.

The art and architecture of ancient civilisations inspired David Webb’s jewellery designs, and regular trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York nurtured his creations. His passion for the antiquity can be traced in his use of textured gold and scroll motifs which are also found in the Art Deco designs by René Boivin.

Webb is well known for his bold use of colours and enamel in conjunction with the brilliance of gemstones, striking a balance between characteristic elegance and playfulness. In 2022, a David Webb coloured diamond, diamond and enamel ring, featuring a Fancy Brown-Yellow marquise diamond of 33.66 carats, sold for US$378,000 at Christie’s online.

In 1957, Webb crafted his first animal bracelet. This sparked a vibrant menagerie of David Webb jewellery adorned with monkeys, elephants, snakes and big cats. Today, these animal-inspired designs continue to captivate collectors. A pair of emerald, enamel and diamond ‘caged leopard chandelier’ earrings surpassed its pre-sale auction estimate of €18,000 to reach €60,480 in 2023 at Christie’s in Paris.

Tragically, the jeweller died in 1975 from pancreatic cancer. Despite his untimely death, his namesake jewellery brand lives on and continues Webb’s legacy, creating pieces based on the jewellery designer’s archive of over 40,000 drawings and models.