The American jewelry house, David Webb, is putting its menagerie of animal jewels under the microscope in an upcoming show at its Madison Avenue showroom in New York City. “A Walk in the Woods: David Webb’s Artful Animals” will mark the first in-house exhibition that puts archival pieces celebrating the animal kingdom on display.
Slated for September 19 to October 2, the by-appointment-only exhibition aims to put the spotlight on the jeweler’s frogs, zebras, cats, snakes, horses and monkeys from its Kingdom collection. The late founder, David Webb, created his first animal bracelet in 1957. By 1963, he had a veritable zoo of animal-themed jewels that, by the end of the decade, were worn by all of Hollywood, including Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor, who had a diamond-studded pearl lion bracelet specially commissioned for her collection. First lady Jackie Kennedy was also a fan and was known to give David Webb jewels as official gifts of state. So beloved are the designs that some private clients today are rumored to own one of every single animal design created by the house.
While the exhibition will show off jewels like enamel zebra, giraffe and frog bracelets adorned with precious gems to an enamel objet box with a snake encircling a giant sapphire, it will also feature a multimedia presentation by photographer and videographer Noah Kalina set to music by cellist Patrick Belaga that will playfully show the animal jewels in their natural habitats. The experience is a reimagining of fashion photographer Milton Greene and illustrator Joe Eula’s “A Walk in the Woods”—a film that debuted at the Coty Awards in 1964 to honor David Webb’s animal kingdom when he won the American Fashion Critics’ Award for his work.
Each of the archival pieces shown at David Webb’s showroom on 924 Madison Avenue will be offered for sale after the exhibition, including two new owl pieces explicitly created for the show. The Hoot Brooch will feature a heart-shaped amethyst surrounded by green and white enamel stripes set in 18-karat gold and platinum, while the Midnight Owl Torsade bracelet is said to be inspired by Taylor’s lion bracelet with two owls connected via multiple strands of gemstone beads.