Looking for vintage David Webb jewelry? Learn about the history, materials used, jewelry marks, and collectible pieces in this guide.
David Webb, an American jeweler from Asheville, North Carolina, is renowned for his colorful enameled animal designs from the 1960s. His creations, including striking gold necklaces, vibrant sautoirs, and Maltese cross brooches, continue to be admired by jewelry enthusiasts worldwide. Webb also utilizes pearls and diamonds in a dynamic manner and has crafted stunning rock crystal pieces.
David Webb Jewelry History
David Webb Inc. was established in 1948 by David Webb and Nina Silberstein when David was just 23 years old. Before this, David gained experience by working as an apprentice in his uncle's jewelry business. His debut design was a copper ashtray adorned with a spider in its web. After relocating to New York, David set up his initial workshop on 47th Street. In the 1950s, he concentrated on supplying wholesale products to high-end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman.
David Webb launched his first animal-inspired bracelet, the "Dragon," in 1957, which he sold to Elizabeth Taylor. By 1963, the company had introduced an entire collection of animal-inspired jewelry featuring a variety of creatures, such as frogs, horses, monkeys, snakes, elephants, and big cats, in addition to their mascot, the zebra.
In 1963, David Webb opened his own showroom on 57th Street. His animal-themed jewelry gained popularity after being featured in a Vogue fashion spread. To keep up with demand, Webb employed 200 master jewelers and 50 stone setters at the peak of his career.
Webb was inspired by cultural history and past jewelry, analyzing gold composition to create patina-replicating alloys. He frequented the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study gold objects from various cultures, and incorporated these ideas into his unique designs. Drawing inspiration from Art Deco jewelry by Cartier and Faberge's exquisite enameling, his creations became highly sought-after among celebrities and heads of state who commissioned him to create adornments and gifts. Jackie Kennedy, one of his biggest fans, entrusted him with special projects.
David Webb had an impressive career, that was unfortunately cut short by cancer in 1975 when he was only 50 years old. Following his passing, Silberstein took over the business until Mark Emanuel and Robert Sadian became the current owners in 2009. Despite his untimely death, Webb left behind a legacy of over 40,000 original designs, which the company continues to use to create jewelry.
David Webb Jewelry - Identification
Most David Webb jewelry is marked with the block letters "Webb" or his full name, "David Webb." Occasionally, you may find both labels on a piece, while some may have no markings. Other markings on the jewelry indicate the metal content, which is usually 18K gold, platinum (marked as "Plat"), or a combination of the two. David Webb's Animal Kingdom designs are especially unique and easily recognizable.
New pieces of David Webb jewelry are sold with a Certificate of Authenticity to confirm the piece's uniqueness and superior quality. This certificate serves as evidence of David Webb's skilled craftsmanship and individuality, and is essential for maintaining the long-term value of the jewelry.
Every certificate is unique and contains the following:
- The name.
- Style number that identifies the design.
- The serial number that identifies the specific item
- The official signature and hand-stamped seal of David Webb New York.
If you've purchased jewelry from an auction or second-hand source and want to ensure its authenticity, David Webb can provide on-site authentication at their workshop in New York for a fee of $600. The process typically takes 3 to 4 weeks.
David Webb Jewelry Marks
David Webb Jewelry Motifs
Popular David Webb jewelry motifs include:
- Geometric and spiral-themed
- Signs of the Zodiac
- Heraldic jewelry
- Art Deco
Most Collectible David Webb Jewelry
Webb's designs are highly sought after. His creations appeal to both local and global customers. The pieces from his active period are more popular among collectors, along with unique and unusual 'one-off' pieces.
Webb gained fame for his animal-inspired creations, particularly his bracelets, which were first introduced in 1957 and continued until 1963. Webb's signature pieces included enamel animals and carved bodies, as well as gold repoussé designs, which were available as bracelets, brooches, rings, cufflinks, and more.
In his quest for inspiration from nature, Webb designed limited-edition seashell-inspired jewelry in the early 1960s. His garden-inspired designs, which included a range of fruit and vegetable brooches from 1962 to 1964, and elegant floral brooches from the late 1960s, were also popular and continue to sell well at auctions.
Webb's geometric and spiral-themed jewelry from the 1960s and 1970s, typically found in solid gold and sometimes with diamonds, are also iconic designs. Additionally, his zodiac jewelry collection, which included pendants, bracelets, buckles, rings, sautoirs, and brooches made in solid gold and sometimes with diamonds, is highly sought after.
Since the early 1960s, Webb has also designed a series of Maltese crosses, which were available in a variety of enamels and stones mounted onto gold. His Art Deco pieces, such as the chandelier style, remain fashionable and can command high prices at auction.
Webb's rings are also popular auction items, with a variety of designs available on the market. A simply designed 18k gold piece can sell for $750 or more.
Finally, Webb's zipper pulls, hairpins, and money clips are lesser-known and rare finds, making them even more desirable to collectors.
Materials Used in David Webb Jewelry
Webb had a classic taste in materials, often using gold with primary-colored enamel. In addition he used sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and other opaque minerals like lapis lazuli and malachite. He had a special affection for red and pink coral, which he used to create many of his animal designs.
How to Tell Real David Webb Pieces from Fakes
If you are considering purchasing a David Webb item at an auction or estate sale, it's important to determine its authenticity. You can do this by looking for the WEBB hallmark, which should be present on every piece. The hallmark is typically stamped on the inside of the jewelry. However, it's important to keep in mind that hallmarks can be duplicated. To avoid mistakenly purchasing or selling a fake, it's recommended to have a qualified jewelry authentication expert inspect the item(s).
What Is David Webb Jewelry Worth?
In general, most David Webb jewelry is highly valuable. This is because:
- Each piece is made by the best jewelry makers in Manhattan, NY as it has been since 1948.
- The company utilizes only uses highest quality metals, stones, and other materials.
- The David Webb brand name has value.
- There is a high demand for David Webb jewelry.
- Every single piece is meticulously crafted from the ground up, some pieces take over a year to make.
- David Webb died young, so anything made before his death is highly sought after.
Jewelry purchased from David Webb can range in price from $5,000 to several million dollars.
Tips for Spotting Counterfeit David Webb Pieces
When it comes to designer fine jewelry, it's essential to authenticate the stone quality and materials used. Moreover, confirming that the piece is an original Webb design is crucial. Make sure to closely examine how the pieces are crafted; they should be of the highest quality.
Other considerations to keep in mind:
- Familiarize yourself with the materials and vocabulary that are commonly used in the industry.
- The presence of hallmarks is essential in verifying the authenticity and origin of an item.
- When buying online, buy from reputable sellers with consistently happy customers and clear photos of hallmarks.
- Beware of unusually low prices; this can be a sign of counterfeiting.
- Finding signed Webb jewelry is a wonderful discovery. However, the method of stamping authentic items has changed over the years, and there are instances where Webb did not sign his creations. In order to confirm the authenticity of a piece, we recommend acquiring a letter of authenticity from David Webb.
Our Favorite Vintage David Webb Pieces
After conducting thorough research on both Etsy and eBay, I have carefully selected outstanding jewelry items from reputable shops that offer genuine and top-notch jewelry. My recommendations will satisfy your requirements and surpass your expectations.
Vintage David Webb Diamond Citrine & Enamel 18K Yellow Gold Frog Brooch
Presenting a 75.6 grams vintage David Webb 18K yellow gold frog brooch with a large size Citrine gemstone on its back. The brooch showcases detailed work with enamel inlay, 3 rows of diamonds on the head, and approximately 1.0 carats of diamonds with F to G color and VS clarity.
Vintage David Webb 18K Yellow Gold Coral Earrings
Vintage clip on earrings by David Webb featuring textured 18K yellow gold and coral. Measurements: Diameter 1.1". Weight: 28.8 grams. Guaranteed 100% authentic.
Vintage David Webb Lion Head Black & White Enamel Link Bracelet
Vintage David Webb bracelet with black and white enamel tiger head motifs in platinum and 18k yellow gold. Bracelet is 7 inches long and weighs 54.70 grams. Comes with David Webb's certificate and is in great pre-owned condition.
David Webb Vintage Rock Crystal Elephant Pin Brooch
Circa 1990, this 18K yellow gold elephant brooch/pendant weighs 86.7 grams and measures 2.5 inches in length and 2 inches in height. The piece is detailed on all sides and features a two-sided faceted quartz stone in the center.
Vintage David Webb Enamel Dinner Cocktail Ring
Fabulous 18k yellow gold and diamond cocktail ring from David Webb. Large, bold, and heavy with 30 bright brilliant cut diamonds set in platinum. Some enamel abrasions present, but easily correctable. Guaranteed to be authentic.
David Webb 1960's Ruby Cabochon Diamond Vintage Ring
1960's ring signed by David Webb with a 7.76 carat ruby cabochon and 0.72 carats of diamonds. Stamped 18k and tested as platinum.
David Webb 1980's Sapphire Cabochon Diamond Vintage Ear-Clip Earrings
These gold earrings feature oval sapphire cabochons weighing a total of 16.60 carats, surrounded by a halo of round brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 3.60 carats. The diamonds are G/H color with VS clarity and are set in high polish bezels. The earrings are completed with hinged omega backs and stamped with 18k for 18 karat gold. They are signed for David Webb and date back to the 1980s.
Webb's bold and luxurious jewelry remains popular even today, with famous followers like Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez. These pieces not only add a statement to your wardrobe but also prove to be a wise investment since his unique jewelry remains highly collectible. Each piece of jewelry, be it a brooch, earrings, or necklace, bears Webb's unmistakable design aesthetic. People appreciate this consistent and unique style present in all of his creations.
Happy Vintage Hunting!