Dallas — British jeweler Stephen Webster is eyeing New York for his first U.S. store, aiming to open by 2012.
“That will be our next move,” Webster said during a recent visit to Neiman Marcus’ NorthPark Center store here. Webster expects to land on Madison Avenue, though he has considered SoHo.
“Our office is in SoHo at West Broadway and Mercer, but the jewelry shops are really rubbish,” he said. “You do need people to expect to buy jewelry that’s not cheap. In London, Harrods is the best store for jewelry. Is it the coolest? No, that’s Selfridges, but we closed our business at Selfridges because it didn’t do that well.”
Among Webster’s 20-plus boutiques, the best performers are London and Kazakhstan, he said, noting that another unit is to open in Vienna in about a month.
In Dallas, Webster showed off his new sea-inspired collection, featuring dangling jellyfish earrings and a ring with a shark-jaw bezel gripping a 25-carat garnet.
“What I try to do is take the most frightening, obnoxious stuff and make jewelry out of it,” Webster said, presenting gold spider-crab earrings with long spindly legs. “It works for me because nobody else is doing it.”
Volume has grown about 30 percent over the last two years to “tens of millions,” he said. Introduced three years ago, Webster’s sterling silver collection — retailing from $300 to $2,000 — now generates 40 percent of company volume. Men’s jewelry is up 85 percent compared with last year, he added.
Stephen Webster Ltd. is controlled by Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos., which acquired a stake in the 20-year-old jewelry brand in 2007. Webster is also creative director of the London jeweler Garrard, which is owned by Yucaipa.