Christina Aguilera, Russell Brand, Elton John, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Jay-Z are just a few names on Stephen Webster's list of celebrity clients, who can't seem to get enough of his stunning and fantasy-filled jewellery designs.
Sporting a full head of silver curls, lived-in wrinkles and a carefree British accent, Webster sat down with us at Lane Crawford last week to talk about his bad boy image, celebrity connections and his take on men's jewellery.
LSA: Over the years, you've gotten a reputation for a "glam-rock attitude" and "bad boy" image. Does that still ring true today?
SW: I'm not a bad boy... [chuckling] I think I'm just normal. It's very easy to break the rules in jewellery. I didn't want to be confined to what I thought was a rigid regime, and when it came to fine jewellery it felt that way. I was always up for pushing the boundaries, and my life is my life.
Yes, I'm social, I like to go out, if there was a nightclub I'd be at it, and I wasn't very good at being in bed early. My style is quite flamboyant in my jewellery, and it sort of evolved that way. I love gem stones, they're very colourful. Glam rock's not a bad thing because it's about glam rocks.
LSA: You've said before that your love of music influenced your designs. What kind of music do you listen to most?
SW: I still like my music, mostly contemporary. Now I've got two daughters, one's 21 and one's 13, and I really don't like the music of my 13 year old. On the other hand, I still like The Stone Roses, who I'm actually going to go see.
I've also got a big collection of vinyl which I still add to. For example, I bought the last Black Keys album in vinyl. I have an iPod but it's not my favourite way to listen to music. My favourite way is either to be there live or I get my records out.
LSA: You've got a lot of celebrities connected to your brand. How and when did that all start?
SW: The first piece of jewellery I ever sold was to Elizabeth Taylor. I was a young guy and she was ... Elizabeth Taylor. She'd seen a ring that had a lavender stone in it, one that I'd made myself, not just designed. That's why she bought it.
It was rose gold and I'd engraved all these roses around the rings with thorns, which are so iconic to me, and little diamonds in between all the roses. She bought it and although I never met her, she commissioned a bracelet to go with the ring. That was in 1983 or 1984.
A bit later in my life, I was contacted by Madonna who'd seen something and wanted me to meet her, and then I eventually made her wedding rings for her and Guy Ritchie.
LSA: Why do you think celebrities are so drawn to your brand?
SW: People in the entertainment world know who we are; stylists know who we are. The [Stephen Webster] jewellery is quite attention-seeking and they're generally quite attention seeking.
Somewhere along the line you either gel with us or you don't. I have to say, though, that the variety of people are extraordinary. It could be an old rocker like Ozzy Osbourne, Elton john or Michael Stipe to Rihanna. We've had Christina [Aguilera], Pink, Jennifer Lopez ... they're all very different.
LSA: You went to Peru last year to experience Fairtrade gold first hand. How was that?
SW: I wanted to go out and see where it's coming from, to be part a problem that's being addressed, even in a small way. It's progress.
I walked two kilometres into an artisanal gold mine, which is a very scary thing to do. I went with a miner, with nothing else but a light on my head into a black hole. I can't even tell you the relief that you get when you come back out again -- it's massive. It was really great.
It was emotional because this was a problem with a solution. I came back and instead of saying to my customers I've got fair trade gold, I'm able to tell them I've been there, I've seen it, I've made a film (it's on YouTube). It's something I believe in.
LSA: Tell us about your exclusive collection at Lane Crawford.
SW: I did a collection about 12 years ago that had a dragon in it, and it also had a three-legged toad, a fish and a dragon. It was no deeper than that. I love this figure, the dragon with the claw and the pearl.
A couple of months ago, I realised it's the year of the dragon after seeing all these interpretations and I thought, I can do much better than the dragon that I did before.
While I was designing it, I was just hoping that along the way I hadn't taken the luck out of it or anything (which is very easy in this part of the world). So, it's not like I'm making a Hong Kong collection. The subject matter and the aesthetics just worked for us.
LSA: As a man, what would you tell other men who are not yet used to wearing jewellery?
SW: I'd need to talk them through it, really. When I did my first collection of men's jewellery, I realised that men were not able to even look at jewellery. It's not like socks or shirts or ties. I've had men look at a bracelet I've got on and say, "Well, that looks cool on you, but I don't know if I could wear it."
What happens is, if a man finds something they're comfortable with, they absolutely love it and they're showing it off to everybody. I think we've got so left behind. If you think back 100 years ago, men's jewellery was bloody amazing. It was fantastic and somewhere along the line it just went off the radar.
For more information, visit www.stephenwebster.com.