The Royal Jewellers S02 ep6 : Stephen Webster Jewellery [London]
Interview with Stephen Webster
Stephen Webster is regarded as the UK's most innovative jewellery designer of our time. Having received countless coveted industry awards as well as becoming a firm favourite with celebrities across the globe, from Madonna to Christina Aguilera, Charlize Theron, Kate Moss, Sir Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne and Cameron Diaz to name but a few. His bold, colourful designs make their way to Basel for 2008 with the new collections "Poison Ivy" and "Fly by Night" and new additions to the Signature Thorn collection, all encompassing the Stephen Webster hallmark of edge, attitude and excellence.
What is Stephen Webster?
Webster: Well, it’s my name, but I think we’ve kind of managed to create this thing which is,
which is jewellery but it’s also managed to blend itself in with my life.
Webster: We’ve obviously grown. Our booth is like a football pitch, it’s like a six bedroom
apartment, which is very strange for me, I’ve kind of gone in eight years from having a 10 x 10
where I would come here on my own and put a few pictures up and put out some wares, and now
I’ve got all these staff and meeting rooms and stuff, but so that’s kind of exciting.
Webster: The only time it can become frustrating is if there’s a problem and you’re too far
removed to be able to fix it. You mentally feel ripe, okay, roll up my sleeves, up and sort
everything out, but then of course you know you’ve got so many people in sort of very skilled
positions that aren’t to do with making jewellery, that are, and I can’t, I can try, I can be there in a
sort of like provide that service, but you can’t sort everything out yourself, so that’s the only thing.
I think other than that mostly it’s positive.
Webster: And sometimes it takes something from the outside to come along and go wow you know
I mean before you realise I mean of course you know things have changed but you know it’s been
over a relatively long period, at least it’s in my lifetime. Part of the success for us really has been I
think we’ve provided something very different and we’ve stuck at it. Fortunately for us, this
industry which I would say is probably still the most conservative industry in the world, it’s got a
new consumer. You know with the way the world’s changed, you know and you can, I mean most
of these people who are sitting in here now buying it are from Russian speaking countries now, 10
years ago in Basa you wouldn’t have heard a Russian accent, now it’s pretty much, it’s everywhere
because it’s a huge part of the world.
Webster: Having a Russian wife you know these things kind of started and that’s been our huge
growth area for this company. I think if we were stuck in what you call the old markets, we
wouldn’t be where we are.
Webster: There’s not two sides to the business but there’s kind of a fine jewellery and that you
know what it’s not that conservative. You might think it is for me, but it’s not really. But then
there’s the sort of the more rock ‘n roll stuff and I think you know we, we’re kind of known for
both and which is quite an interesting place to be you know and I think people expect both, they
don’t sort of go, well why are you doing that and why are you doing that, they kind of expect both.
Webster: The funny thing is that in some ways you feel that you’ve got a global business and
you’ve got to sort of cater to these places you know does my customer in America want the same
thing as my customer in Japan in the same way as in Moscow you know and I think to a tiny
degree there’s an element of that, but it’s tweaking so if you try, if you say right okay, I’m going to
Japan, I’ll do a collection for Japan, they go, but that’s not, we want you because we want what
you do you know in England it’s like you know a pair of Levis is a pair of Levis, you know they
don’t sort of do, they might make them a bit smaller and a bit shorter or longer and bigger, but
they’re basically the same thing.
Webster: I’ve got three designers that I would say would be very much like I was you know, so we
do that, we design, draw and it is very much that sort of thing that hasn’t changed but in my team
in the same room in the sort of design room now, you know I’ve got two people on the CAD who
take, take if from the drawing to that stage that would have been the guy making the master plan.
Now we still do that, but more and more and more we’re doing more of that process on the CAD.
You’ve got so much flexibility before you made it, if it wasn’t quite right you’ve got to sort of
work back and see if you can sort of work with what you’ve done if you need to change it, whereas
on the CAD you go in, you muck around, so that’s become a very important part and I think that
anyone that doesn’t have that element now would be struggling.
Webster: You know there’s certain things you know like this ring I’m wearing here that needs to
have a guy who’s like a little sculptor who makes it in wax, there’s no question but a lot of the
other things you know can be done with CAD.
Webster: My next trip I go, I start in San Francisco and then I’m going to the Mid West, then I’m
going straight over to Moscow, Kiev and Siberia in Katerinburg to see for the first time my store in
Siberia, now that’s really pushing it isn’t it, I mean even for people that understand that the luxury
market’s extending they go, did you just say Siberia? You know I’m expecting to get there, there
will be some sort of barren flats of ice and snow and a shed that say Stephen Webster written over
the top of it.
But it obviously won’t be like that.
Webster: Well I’m hoping not, I’ve seen photographs, it looks pretty good.
Are you still chasing Graff as your benchmark?
Webster: We probably would provide for the same client, I mean I know for sure you know my
clients will say, I want my diamond rings a Graff diamond you know, it’s kind of like a brand name,
but they would absolutely go to him for that and they come to me for what I provide, they wouldn’t
be going to me, can you get me a 10 carat diamond, I’d pretty much say nowadays, don’t bother
you know what I mean, you go to these guys for that, it’s not, it’s not my business and for him you
want a real designed kind of piece of jewellery you come to me you know so it’s two different
Webster: If I really want to be finding a big trend, because that’s more important to me than a
season trend, there’s places where you can go where people research and research and they’re like
three or four years ahead, they’ll know a big movement and the fashion designers go to those as
well, which is why there’s no coincidence that if you know on a catwalk show, you know if
someone’s got cargo pants, they’re not the only ones. This designer will have them, and this
designer because you get that kind of big movement you know, they’re all doing their own sort of
idea and that’s a nice service, it’s great, you know I think it’s nice well important for someone like
ourselves to know what colours are going to be around you know because those won’t affect
everything but they’ll have an impact.
What can you do with jewellery today that you couldn’t do 10 years ago?
Webster: I suppose you know some of the things like we said a bit with the CAD you know
provides something I think you know, laser manufacturing is you know I know that’s not new
anymore but it’s still considering nothing changed for about 2,000 years, you know that’s
relatively new. I think there’s metal finishes that are new, we sort of do a tiny bit in sort of
titanium some bits in steel, but it’s so not really our forte.
Webster: We do a big collection now in silver which is kind of our newest component to our
business which I’ve got up there Christine Aguilera is the face of our, of that product.
So how the hell did you get Christine Aguilera?
Webster: She was probably our single biggest celebrity client. It wasn’t just a case of you know
now and again they buy something, you know I’d be doing everything, I’d be in for the whole
family you know, her dancers, you know her husband, her mum, everybody.
How did you meet her in the first place?
Webster: Through, when they were making a video Lady Marmalade for the film Moulin Rouge,
we did all the jewellery. And through that we picked her up, and Pink, both of them as clients and
both I ended up making their wedding rings, engagement rings, they became friends, Christina I
suppose a bit more and you know we were drunk one night, I was with her and her husband said
look you know what, you’ve been an amazing spokesperson for us, but it’s a bit random you know
if you’re at the Grammys and you’re wearing my earrings it’s, but there’s no, you know there’s not
the opportunity. I’ll make a line that’s going to be total luxury but less expensive, you’re the right
age, you look amazingly glamorous, you’ve got a huge influence globally, you be the face of it and
we’ll kind of do it together it won’t be a Christina Aguilera anything, it’s Stephen Webster
jewellery but you, you can have some impact so that’s what we did. So we just kind of launched
out and amazingly it’s a huge amount of impact, people all over the world you know you know
that celebrity has an effect otherwise people wouldn’t use them you know, but the great thing
about someone like her is that for example we do Vegas, our show in Vegas, she’s coming to
Vegas and going to do a concert Stephen Webster, only, no, there’s nothing else, it’s just her,
piano, whoever I want to invite, that’s pretty you know that’s quite serious.
The next best thing is for the Rolling Stones.
Webster: Yeah well I’d rather have her than the Rolling Stones. They’re getting a bit creepy now.
Having said that, Jessie Wood who is Ronnie Wood’s son, is my face of my men’s stuff.
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