Las Vegas Preview: Stephen Webster Gives Fledgling Brit Designers a Boost

If you haven’t heard of Rock Vault, an initiative curated by designer Stephen Webster and presented by the British Fashion Council during London Fashion Week, you’re about to get a quick education at the Couture show in Las Vegas, May 30–June 3.

Now in its second calendar year, Rock Vault aims to help up-and-coming British jewelry designers get the exposure and mentoring (and even a little cash!) they need to get businesses off the ground. Each year, a high-profile selection panel (including Webster; Annalise Quest, merchandising manager of fine jewelry for Harrods; and Carol Woolton, jewelry editor for Vogue U.K., among others) chooses 10 artists based in the U.K. who’ve been in business for fewer than eight years and already have “a minimum of four stockists,” according to contest rules, to receive a cash prize of no more than £3,000. The sum is earmarked for jewelry production for an installation to be featured within the dedicated Rock Vault area during London Fashion Week.

To help the up-and-coming designers even more, Webster, with 37 years of design and business savvy, is making space in his very own Couture booth—in the Mouton One Ballroom at the Wynn—for seven of the 10 winners to exhibit their wares to American buyers. The group includes Hannah Martin, Yunus and Eliza, Fernando Jorge, Imogen Belfield, Jo Hayes Ward, Melanie Georgacopoulos, and Tomasz Donocik.

“The fact that the Rock Vault designers are able to take part in the show at this early stage in their business development is a great opportunity for them,” explained Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC, to the media. “This trip wouldn’t have been possible without Stephen Webster. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his continuous support and enthusiasm for the initiative.”

Webster’s intimate involvement with Rock Vault this year further reinforces his recent award of Member of the Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to training and skills in the British jewelry industry.

In our fiercely competitive economy and industry, Webster’s campaign to help rising jewelry stars is bold and magnanimous. Does anyone recall any jewelry brand ever stepping up like this to promote up-and-comers? I’d love to know your thoughts, and what you think of the designs.

Jo Hayes Ward

Hex Stacking rings in 18k gold and 18k gold with palladium, all with rose- and brilliant-cut diamonds, $760–$3,200; Jo Hayes Ward

Imogen Belfield

Fool’s Wreath necklace in 22k gold-plated bronze with sterling silver, pyrite, and gemstones, $1,420; Imogen Belfield

Yunus and Eliza

Shard ring in sterling and black titanium, $1,525; Yunus and Eliza

Fernando George

Fluid Diamonds and Stones Cross earrings in 18k yellow gold with diamonds and emeralds, $11,630; Fernando Jorge

Hannah Martin

Solaris Orbit Enlightenment ring in 18k gold with sapphires, amethyst, and Carré-cut diamonds with black rhodium, $15,310; Hannah Martin

Tomasz Donocik

Dragon Fly ring in palladium with green beryl, emeralds, and diamonds, price on request; Tomasz Donocik