Stephen Webster was just 16 when he found his calling—accidentally. “I went to art school to do fashion design,” he says. “And I very quickly realized that wasn’t for me.” But jewelry, he thought, was intriguing.
Nearly four decades later, the 54-year-old Brit is one of the biggest names in luxury jewelry design, consistently producing edgy collections like “Seven Deadly Sins” and working with stars like Madonna, Amy Adams and Elton John. He made only two personal appearances stateside all year, and one was at Diamond Cellar in October to debut his newest collection, “Fly By Night.” We talked with him about passion, inspiration and the best piece of jewelry he’s gifted his wife.
Nearly four decades into your career, what keeps you passionate?
I take a lot of risks with the jewelry. Not all of them work, but it certainly put us on the map.
I know you take pride in mentorship programs you’ve created.
I love that I’m in a position to help people in this industry because of my experience. I don’t do their designing—they don’t need that. (But) I can help with their merchandising.
What type of woman inspires you?
I think it’s more about if I’m inspiring them, to be honest. You get all sorts. You get some who take it too far—I’m never going to turn them down [laughing].
Who have been your favorite celebs to work with?
I think probably the most exciting was a bit historic: The first person I ever sold a ring to who was famous was Elizabeth Taylor. It was 1984. That would never happen! Then I’m getting an invitation from Madonna to come to her house. … And then different people—some are quite funny. Ozzy Osbourne—when they started on TV, he’s wearing all my jewelry.
Favorite piece you’ve ever gifted?
I know what my wife would say, so I would say that. A few years ago, I met this stone carver in Germany. The technique was beautiful, but the subject matter was iffy. She was doing hard-stone cameos of people like Lady Gaga and Madonna. I said to her, “Can you do my daughter?” The first one I didn’t like. The second one was great. I turned it into a locket and added gemstones. I’ve given (my wife) a lot of jewelry over the years, but emotional gifts are the best.
You’ve traveled the world. What’s the last place that wowed you?
I could write a travel book! But I’m half Welsh, and this year, I took my wife to Wales, because she’s never been. We went to Pembrokeshire in Wales, and were both blown away. It was so beautiful. I started buying Dylan Thomas books and getting into the Welshness of it all [laughing].
You’re an artist in every sense. Why is art important?
I think if you can go to its most basic component, it’s something beautiful to look at. It’s a communicator. It’s generally got a lot more to say, but that can sort of manifest itself in all sorts of ways. To me, (to not have) it would be like a world without music— you just can’t do that. You need visual stimulation.