With high profile clients like Madonna, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp and over 20 boutiques internationally, Stephen Webster has proven his work is a tour de force.
London based designer Stephen Webster has been in the fine jewelry business for over 38 years. After starting art school at 16 in art school thanks to his skill at drawing, Webster switched his creative career to fashion and ultimately decided to pursue jewelry.
Known for his whimsical and gothic inspired pieces, Webster has continued to deliver unique and beautiful collections in the jewelry world. With fresh collections available at Tivol, we caught up with the designer to talk inspiration, success and the label he just can’t shake.
Q. What got you interested in creating jewelry?
A: I went to art school after high school because I knew I could draw. I knew I wanted to be creative, I just didn’t know what specifically. After switching to fashion design and realizing I didn’t love it, I switched to jewelry. It coincidentally was one of the best degrees offered.
Q. Where do you find inspiration?
A. I have to say, I have a new collection out called Lady Stardust that was inspired by one of my favorite musicians, David Bowie. My collection, Jewels Verne, was inspired by beautiful gems as well as literary genius, Jules Verne. I absolutely loved doing that collection. I often pull inspiration from literature or my travels. I have a house on the coast that looks out to the sea, which was a huge inspiration for me. I’m always looking at something and thinking, “How could I turn that poem into something abstract and physical?” I have a gothic or rock and roll label that I can’t get rid of. I think I confuse people because some of my lines aren’t “even.” So when they see one piece that has that gothic element, and then they see me, they sort of label me as that.
Q. When did you realize you had “made it?”
A. I don’t know if we’ve got there yet! We can always do better. We knew something was happening about 15 years ago because all the attention was on us. We were doing something in fine jewelry that was a bit edgy and rock and roll and it appeared to be disregarding some of the rules. From the material point of view, it was similar to other jewelry, but from the design side, I started to change because I had enough of feeling like fine jewelry had to be conservative and classic. That shift brought a lot of attention to my brand.
Q. What do you love most about designing jewelry?
A. I think the freedom that I have now. I literally can take something as abstract as a book I’ve read or event I’ve experienced and use that inspiration and turn it, twist it and make it into something. We just sit down and get on with it. It somehow becomes a collection of jewelry from something so disconnected. Creatively, it’s the best. Besides that, I love beautiful gems and nature and jewelry in itself.
Q. Did you have any obstacles in creating your business?
A. Probably every problem I could have possibly had! I didn’t have any money, I worked my ass off for every penny I had. The fact that I wanted to be different was challenging. I told myself that I would be different or I was giving up. Walking around jewelry stores trying to sell my jewelry to them was extremely difficult. Because my pieces weren’t engagement rings or typical jewelry; it was hard because stores wouldn’t know where to place me.
Q. What do you think changed that allowed your lines to blossom?
A. There was a transition in fine jewelry. Jewelry started to be worn as part of a cohesive, fashionable look instead of separate. The clients did it for me, honestly. People like Madonna and Tory Burch would buy my jewelry and wear it out as part of an outfit. People would photograph them and it sort of started this revolution. It was incredible. I began to have more and more clients and after that; stores wanted to buy it as well. The obstacle was the industry because it’s a quite rigid and conservative industry. Now, I’m perfectly comfortable being where I am at.