Carved jade, brilliant-cut diamonds, hammered 18K gold, and platinum.
In the early 1970s, David Webb had his finger on the pulse of style, and it was throbbing to the beat of jade. The times were tumultuous, and politics and fashion culture were aligning. Even Harper’s Bazaar magazine ran a story in December 1971 entitled “Bazaar’s China Chic” that referenced President Nixon’s foreign initiatives, the Kissinger probe, and U.N. votes on China. Oscar de la Renta, esteemed fashion designer and friend of David Webb, had created an entire collection of silk and embroidered gowns, and they were expertly paired with intense David Webb jade and gold jewelry, photographed by Alberto Rizzo.
Regarding jade, David Webb himself stated that for the modern woman, jewelry has to be bold and uncomplicated, and it has to be real, and unique.
A piece of jewelry has to be carefully and beautifully designed and individual to the woman who wears it. – David Webb
Eugenia Sheppard’s column, Inside Fashion, declared that “Webb Suggests Jade for Jewelry” and detailed exactly what the jeweler had done to make this jade fashion moment take shape. “The pieces in his new jade collection fill the bill. They are all antique carvings that originated in China. They were once plaques worn by mandarins, or belt buckles that belonged to the beautiful people of Old China. No two were alike. His pieces, all sizes from the big pendants to the small bits used in rings and earrings, shade from apple to spinach green.”
David Webb’s jade jewelry featured prominently in a full page ad put out by the company, showing jade brooches of every shape and size wrapped in hammered gold and set with rubies and diamonds. Delicate butterfly brooches with lattice-work paper-thin jade wings fluttered off the shelves at the David Webb boutique.
Just as jade was a part of the cultural moment of the 1970s, it’s very much a part of today’s style revolutions as well. Actress Amy Adams wore David Webb jade disk earrings on the red carpet for Nocturnal Animals at the BAFTAs. With her hair pulled back in an elegant knot, and a sleeveless Tom Ford green velvet dress, the jade earrings glowed. The earrings feature carved and disk jade, brilliant-cut diamonds, hammered 18K gold, and platinum.
What’s so enticing about the jade jewelry known by David Webb collectors is that it is a shrewd stone that makes a huge impact. In “Jade Is Making News In Jewelry,” an article from 1972, the author states that “It doesn’t have the dazzle of a diamond or the depth of a star sapphire. It’s subtle and -- like olives, oysters, truffles and caviar -- is an acquired taste.” For those that have the right palate, jade can be the flavor du jour.