“I think everyone should be able
to participate in fine design. …
Why can’t you design a beautiful bracelet
and have affordability?”
David Yurman creates luxurious fine jewelry that he believes should be, within the implied financial confines of precious metals, diamonds, gemstones, and craftsmanship, available to everyone. He believes in a democracy of luxury. And that is why you will find a nice range of prices on his website.
As a teenager in Long Island, New York, David Yurman met Cuban welder and sculptor Ernesto Gonzales who taught him the direct welding techniques that inform his work today.
“At 16, I learned how to use a blow torch.
I was a bad student
but I stayed focused at the welding table.
I knew I liked to make things.”
After attending NYU for one year, Yurman dropped out and embarked upon the iconic beatnik route, making his way from Greenwich Village to Venice and Big Sur until settling in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s where he apprenticed with Jacques Lipchitz, the Lithuanian-born sculptor. During this time Yurman established his own studio in Greenwich Village and worked for many different sculptors including Theodore Roszak.
In the late 1960s, David became the shop foreman for sculptor Hans Van de Bovenkamp and it was in this studio that David met his future wife and business partner, the painter Sybil Kleinrock.
The couple moved to Carmel in upstate New York in the early 1970s and formed a company called Putnam Art Works. At this time, Yurman began to weld belt buckles and travel to craft fairs.
Sybil did not like this nomadic lifetstyle of David’s, so he changed his course and started making one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry for Sybil instead – which she liked a lot. A Manhattan gallery owner also liked this a lot after seeing a piece on Sybil at an exhibit opening, asking her if it was for sale. David said no — the piece was so personal; Sybil said yes — seeing the start of a business.
“I came to the city kicking and screaming
to follow Sybil. But we made the decision
to move to the city so we could sell ‘Main Street.’
We got into fine jewelers and then
(Henri) Bendel’s and then Neiman Marcus and Saks.
We still sold a handful of craft stores.”
Since David Yurman’s introduction into the jewelry world over 30 years ago, the personalized jewelry he created for Sybil grew into a brand that now offers 300 new pieces a year. Sybil is chief of marketing. Designs still start in David’s Moleskin sketchbook:
“I get juiced by drawing.
If I get a moment when no one is in the house,
I’ll go through old magazines, old drawings,
some ideas that are still gestating, and I’ll wonder,
‘Is this right for this moment?’”
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