David Yurman laughs when I ask how many cable bracelets he has sold in the 30 years since he founded his eponymous label. “Hundreds of thousands,” he says, a figure that makes his laughter completely understandable. “Roughly 50 percent of everything we sell is a cable bracelet.”
Yurman estimates that over the last three decades, more than 300,000 customers have purchased one (and likely more) of his signature cable pieces, those twistedhelix, gemstone-splashed dazzlers crafted in sterling silver and gold. And to think it all started as a gift for his sweetheart: Back in the ’70s, Yurman, then an up-and-coming sculptor, crafted some jewelry for his girlfriend, Sybil, a painter. When she wore one of the pieces to an art opening, the gallery owner took notice and asked if it was for sale; in the same moment Yurman said no—he couldn’t dream of selling something he crafted as a love token—Sybil said yes. “And like that, we were in the jewelry business,” Yurman says. Sybil soon after became both Yurman’s wife and business partner; the couple has been married for 31 years.
Before he established his label, Yurman experimented with a variety of metal treatments, some of which he has reintroduced to celebrate his 30th anniversary this year. A new line featuring diamonds seemingly suspended on wire finds its origins in those early efforts: “We brought it back and improved upon it, though all these years later, it’s still all made by hand,” Yurman points out. “With that collection, I love the ‘Omigosh, how did you do that?’ effect that it has on people.”
But it’s the Cable collection, which debuted in 1983, that propelled Yurman’s career into the stratosphere. The foundation of the collection was and remains the bracelet, which has spawned numerous offshoots, including the Cable Watch collection. “I joke that the birth of our watch brand was David’s effort to get me to be on time,” Sybil says.
To coincide with the 30th anniversary, Yurman has designed an exclusive line of cable bracelets and other jewelry pieces using rare stones he’s collected over the years. “I’m a bit of a rock hound,” he admits. “It was all about reinventing the classic but also going full-out, using the most amazing stones in our archives.”
While the collection likely will garner tremendous demand, Yurman’s keeping the concept to roughly three-dozen pieces, “and after that, I’ll retire them.” Before 300,000 fans riot, he means the limited-edition pieces, not the cable bracelet itself. “Are you kidding?” Yurman says. “We’ll never let that go away.” 40 E. Oak St.; davidyurman.com
BOTTOM RIGHT: Sterling silver and diamond Cable bracelets with blue topaz, prasiolite, and 14k gold and amethyst (prices on request).