The David Webb Revival
The famous jewelry house gets a new flagship.
It’s been a busy year for David Webb, the iconic 1960s- and ’70s-era American jewelry house. After estate jewelers Mark Emanuel, Sima Ghadamian and Robert Saidian bought the company in 2010, the trio set about revitalizing the brand, hiring Terry Richardson and Carine Roitfeld for a provocative ad campaign, delving into Webb’s vast archives to make never-before- seen pieces (just 10,000 of his 40,000 sketches were ever produced) and opening a flagship on Madison Avenue, not far from where Webb launched his famous 57th Street location in 1963. Architect Peter Pennoyer outfitted the new 8,000-square-foot space with a ground-floor boutique, an elegant upper-level lounge, an archive room that includes the sketches (currently being used for research on the first David Webb book, due out next winter) and a rare in-house workshop, where every piece is made by hand. At 942 Madison Ave.; 212-421-3030; davidwebb.com.
Ask the Expert: Mark Emanuel, Co-Owner, David Webb
Q: How can you tell the old David Webb from the new?
A: Webb chose gems that inspired him, but not all were necessarily of the highest quality. Sima, Robert and I have access to some of the finest stones in the world, and we’ve been amassing all sorts, including some of David’s favorites, like antique Chinese jade, carved coral and Persian “Sleeping Beauty” turquoise. We’re also trying more unconventional stones, like antique amber beads, which David was also known to work with, and interpreting them the way he would have. But we are using only the original wax molds, so each new piece remains true to his designs. The differences are functional details, such as updated earring backs for wearability. And while David did keep some records (his archives include more than 30,000 sketches and orders), aside from the (much-copied) stamps on the pieces, he provided no real authenticity to his clients. When we opened last year, we decided to include certificates with all new pieces in addition to authenticating any estate pieces that clients bring to us.