Stephen Webster, a 37-year veteran of the jewelry industry and Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, proved his royal worth in June when he brought a contingent of up-and-coming designers—part of the British Fashion Council’s Rock Vault jewelry initiative—to Couture in Las Vegas.
Webster carved out space in his own booth to enable seven artists to exhibit their wares. The group included Hannah Martin, Yunus and Eliza, Fernando Jorge, Imogen Belfield, Jo Hayes Ward, Melanie Georgacopoulos, and Tomasz Donocik.
London-based Ward—who had exhibited at the New York International Gift Fair in January—was impressed by American buyers’ confidence and market savvy. “There is a much bigger market here than in the U.K. It feels like there is enough room for everyone,” she told JCK, adding that she picked up six new accounts in Vegas. “To be presented by Stephen Webster and his team was incredible—both for the PR and because our area became a new destination at the show. The introductions and mentoring that we all received have generated many opportunities.”
Hex Stacking ring in 18k yellow, warm, and white gold with palladium and rose- and brilliant-cut diamonds; $760–$3,200; Jo Hayes Ward, London; 44-790-352-1427; johayes.com
Editors and stylists were equally pleased. “The Rock Vault is a great example of the kind of platform needed to support emerging talent looking for opportunities to grow their businesses,” says New York City–based fine jewelry consultant and JCK contributor Brooke Magnaghi. Adds freelance writer Debbie Yonick of York, Pa.: “I love the pay-it-forward approach to helping new talent get noticed.”
Perhaps the biggest endorsement came from Marie-Helene Morrow of Reinhold Jewelers in Puerto Rico. She loved Webster’s designers so much, she says, that she “bought from every single one of them.” —Jennifer Heebner