London based contemporary fine jewellery designer Stephen Webster is known internationally for his cutting edge designs, traditional craftsmanship and responsibly sourced jewellery. We have been fans of his statement jewellery for years as his work is inspired by music, fashion, literature and art which allows his collections to be dynamic pieces that are highly covetable by icons, idols, music royalty to actual Royals!
Earlier this month, Stephen Webster was here in NYC and was a part of the Initiatives in Art and Culture Gold Conference which has a series of panels with notables in the jewelry industry who share their insights within this space as well as sharing their stories. We took some time to chat with Stephen to talk about how he got into the jewelry business, his involvement with this year's conference and his inspiration process.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What was the moment when you realized you wanted to be a jewellery designer and what was your journey, that eventually led to creating your own line?
STEPHEN WEBSTER: My passion for jewellery started when I was 16 years old, when I enrolled at art school. Originally, I had applied for the fashion course but after a tour of the department, which was full of sewing machines, I decided that perhaps it was not for me. Instead I discovered the jewellery department; workshops full of flames, chemicals, tools, noise and grime. A place where everyone seemed to be making treasure. This was for me. I spent the following ten years learning my craft, wanting to be able to make my own treasure. Starting my own company was a natural progression after an almost ten year spell in Canada and California working for a gem hunter. By this time, I had developed my own style and I could make anything if the medium was precious metals and gems.
AM: Tell us what the style and aesthetic of Stephen Webster is and what one can expect from your brand?
SW: Our brand has evolved from my personal passion for craftsmanship and the techniques both ancient and modern applied to the processes of making fine jewellery. Feeling stifled by an industry so steeped in tradition that there seemed to be little enthusiasm for creativity, I wanted to apply my skills to an aesthetic that felt more contemporary and progressive. This spirit of rebellion became the foundation of the company.
AM: What is your favorite collection that you have created and what is it about it that sticks out to you?
SW: If I had to choose, which I’d rather not, then it would have to be the Classic Crystal Haze ring. This piece truly put “Stephen Webster” the brand on the map. It's not just a design but more of a concept; people are still fascinated by the play of light and colour within Crystal Haze gems, not to mention the variety of colour we offer. The result is like an illumination, the light passes through the facets of the Quartz, bounces about inside the stone and reflects the colour back out to the eye. It's like magic but in fact; physics.
AM: What is the inspiration process like for you when you are creating your collections?
SW: It has always been my passion to cultivate jewellery collections that push creative boundaries, are innovative and are unreservedly cool. All my work reflects my personality. I am fortunate that selfishly, I have pursued topics and inspirations from my life’s experiences and translated them into our many collections. Within all of them there is vibrancy.
AM: Tell us about the Last Straw and why this was important to have within your product offerings as well as to be a part of a global social good effort?
SW: This initiative is our brand taking a stand for social responsibility. With the Last Straw one hopes to help raise awareness of the damage done to the seas by the 8.5 billion plastic straws we use a year in the UK alone. We teamed up with Plastic Oceans Foundation for this project to donate 10% of all sales to support its work. It’s well known that I personally have love of all things aquatic and over the years have taken part in several clean ocean and water initiatives. It’s important that no matter how small, we play a part in preserving our oceans.
AM: How important is sustainability as a brand and tell us about being awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury?
SW: Hugely Important. Throughout my four decade-spanning career I’ve always been an advocate of ethically sourced materials, travelling to mines in Peru and Tanzania to meet the mining communities and trace the origins of precious materials I use in my work. We work very hard to adhere to the strict codes of practice required to display the ‘Positive Luxury’ logo alongside our own. Our close involvement with meticulous craftsmanship, ensuring the sourcing of conflict-free gemstones, coupled with our community development activities allows us to use our position as a leading brand to inspire people, partners and customers to respect our planet. We aim to champion products and processes that contribute to healthier, happier communities while minimizing our environmental impact. Responsibility in a corporate sense was something we became conscious of due to the attention drawn to the diamond industry. We began to ask questions of our suppliers to ensure none of our products were unethically sourced. Following a trip to Peru to examine working conditions Stephen Webster championed the need for the jewellery industry to make a change, and with the help of Positive Luxury we have changed all our working practices.
PHOTOS COURTESY | PG 107 Zoe Law Jan | PG 108 Rankin | PG 109 Stephen Webster Jewellery |