The Art of David Webb: Jewelry and Culture

The Art of David Webb celebrates the designer’s dedication to artistry over more than seven decades.

When David Webb came to New York at the age of 17, he was captivated by the museums, architecture, and fashions of the day. By the time he opened shop in 1948, the city had become his muse. In his only published article, “Why Not Hang Gems?,” of 1963, he wrote that jewelry deserved to be regarded as art and collected by museums.

That conviction fuels The Art of David Webb. Here is jewelry shown as art in more than 120 images—all specially photographed for this book—that speak to the variety of artistic and cultural periods that inspired David Webb and the company he founded. Examples include David Webb's enameled and diamond Mondrian Bracelet, an homage to Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie and Yves Saint Laurent’s 1960s sheath dress with its famed color blocking; a gemstone-rich dragon brooch taken from a Scythian animal pommel; and a scored rock crystal and diamond bracelet that updates art deco classics. Throughout, work by painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, and couturiers form a visual dialogue with the sumptuous David Webb jewelry. The imaginative pairings, in-depth descriptive captions, and elegantly designed publication are resounding proof that jewelry is both art and culture.

About The Author

Ruth Peltason is an author, editor, jewelry historian, and lecturer. Her books include Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, which made the New York Times Bestseller List; Living Jewels; and David Webb: The Quintessential American Jeweler, named the best gift book of the year in 2013 by the Los Angeles Times. David Webb has long been the leading American jeweler of bold, modern works, best known for hand-hammered gold, colorful enamel, exquisite rock crystal pieces, and signature animal motifs. All of the jewelry is made by master craftsmen and women in the company’s workshop in New York.

  • Publish Date: September 05, 2023
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Design - Jewelry
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 10 x 12-1/2
  • Pages: 256
  • US Price: $85.00
  • CDN Price: $115.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-7333-3


"“Why Not Hang Gems?” the American jeweler David Webb asked in a 1963 essay. He believed in jewels as cultural artifacts, as integral to history and decorative arts as painting or sculpture, and also deeply connected to both mediums. In The Art of David Webb: Jewelry and Culture, writer Ruth Peltason uses illuminating and often unexpected juxtapositions to outline his point and to celebrate the impact this belief system had on his work. Webb’s jewelry is never timid, and Peltason reveals his equally bold inspirations: a carved coral chrysanthemum brooch paired with Hokusai’s 19th-century print of a chrysanthemum; a coiled dragon brooch fueled by a Scythian gold animal pommel (6th century BCE); the hammered gold and gemstone Tree of Life necklace evoking the Gustav Klimt masterpiece of that name; a banded gold cuff reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. Jewelry is often dismissed as mere adornment; Webb insisted it should never be. This book makes his case" ~TOWN AND COUNTRY