David Yurman: What's New From Everyone's Favorite Cable Guy
The jewelry designer returns to his roots as a sculptor with a modern take on fall's hottest metal.
"It's you guys who gave me that nickname, isn't it?" asks jewelry designer David Yurman, referring to the moniker that has followed him around for more than two decades, employed by editors with greater frequency since a certain Jim Carrey-Matthew Broderick film debuted in 1996. "The Cable Guy — that's who I’ll always be," Yurman adds with a laugh.
You can't fault fashion editors for bestowing that title upon the designer who since 1983 has been crafting twisted helixes of metal into stylish cable designs often embellished with colorful gems, a signature look that has left him burnished with a decided rock-star status. Indeed, attend any personal appearance with the New York-based Yurman and you’re sure to witness an enthusiastic swarm of fans, primarily women eager to discuss the depth of their collections while showing off clusters of cable bracelets stacked on their wrists. Yurman’s designs are likewise popular among the Hollywood set, with Janelle Monae, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas among those who have worn his pieces on recent red carpets.
At the Couture Jewelry Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, Yurman unveiled his latest collection, a tribute to his early roots as a sculptor. Christened Pure Form Bronze, the pieces highlight the metal he's been working with for more than 50 years. "I was using bronze as a sculptural material, and I had all these bronze rods lying around, and I found I could weld them and make all these interesting shapes," he explains. "The jewelry really grew out of that."
Yurman’s timing is perfect for this homage to the sculptor side of his career, with bronze trending as a hot metal in both jewelry and watches for fall. His Pure Form Bronze pieces include bangles or hoop earrings splashed with diamonds, as well as mixed-metal designs like four-row cuffs or rings crafted in bronze, yellow and rose gold, and cable-twisted silver for an added touch of texture. "I like that the silver became the pop in the design; there’s an interesting balance in that," Yurman says. "I'm not bound by any traditions in jewelry, except that it has to stay on your body and feel comfortable. Beyond that, we did a lot of mixes with the bronze, and a lot of finishes, simply because we liked the way they looked." The collection is due to launch in stores on Aug. 23.
That debut will be one element of what should prove to be a hot fall for Yurman. In 2018, he celebrates 35 years of his most iconic design, and will kick off that anniversary with a forthcoming book. "The bronze also has me thinking about sculptures; I’ve got a lot of them hanging around, and perhaps we’ll tie everything together into a show that will travel around to different museums," he says.
There’s a bit of symmetry about the idea that Yurman is contemplating this full-circle moment. At 74 years old, he admits that he’s not considering retirement or his legacy, but does have thoughts of succession on his mind. "Sybil and I don’t think too much ahead; maybe just a few yards down the road," Yurman says (he and wife Sybil, a painter who also works in the business, have been married for 38 years). Their 35-year-old son, Evan, is the brand's chief design director. "But he likes working mainly with the high-jewelry pieces that only four people in Dubai want to buy," Yurman jokes. "But that’s great, because he loves it. I made four high-jewelry pieces last year, and it was excruciating. It’s such a long process. I’m better at production, figuring out how something for $2,000 can be really well-made and beautiful."
For many years David Yurman, the brand, unquestionably has been a family affair: Evan favors the high-jewelry pieces, but initially entered the business working on the men’s designs, while Sybil also often contributes ideas, such as the starburst-like Supernova collection currently in stores. Their 8-year-old granddaughter, Cody, also shows promise, David says. "I brought her out to Sag Harbor one day to meet a client I’ve known for 40 years, and she was looking at a vitrine behind the counter," he recalls. "She pointed to some pieces and said, 'That doesn’t go with that.'"
Yurman and his friend gave Cody permission to fix it, and soon enough she was rearranging pieces and asking for jewelry in complementary colors, as well as props to add height to the back of the display. “She did such a good job, and then we left to get some ice cream on the pier,” Yurman says. "About 45 minutes later, my friend called me: 'I just sold something from that back vitrine; do you know how long it’s been since I sold a piece from there?' He couldn’t believe it."
He's clearly tickled by his granddaughter's talents, though Yurman knows that, at 8 years old, the idea of Cody joining the business full-time will have to wait. "That's OK, I'm not going anywhere," he says. "I'm having too much fun."