“WHY ARE MAGAZINES so obsessed with numbers?” David Yurman exclaims, though the laughter that follows proves he’s only feigning indignation.
It’s easy to get mesmerized by stats when Yurman is involved: In the three decades he’s been designing jewelry, Yurman estimates that more than 300,000 customers have purchased one (and likely more) of his highly identifiable cable pieces, those twisted-helix, gemstone-splashed dazzlers crafted in sterling silver and gold. Yurman is laughing because I have asked him how many cable bracelets he has sold in his 30 years as a designer. “Hundreds of thousands,” he says. “Roughly 50 percent of everything we sell is a cable bracelet.”
And to think it all started as a gift for his girlfriend. Back in the ’70s, Yurman, then a 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 was saying no—he couldn’t dream of selling something he crafted as a love token—Sybil was saying yes. “And like that, we were in the jewelry business,” Yurman says. Sybil soon became both Yurman’s wife and business partner; the couple has been married for 31 years.
It was a few more years before he would establish his eponymous label, and during that time Yurman experimented with a variety of metal treatments, some of which he has brought back to celebrate his 30th anniversary. A new collection featuring diamonds seemingly suspended on wire originated 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 has propelled Yurman’s career into the stratosphere. The foundation of the collection was and remains the bracelet, with its finial ends now offered in a rainbow of gemstones. The design has spawned numerous offshoots, including a collection in 18k gold, as well as Cable Kids, a men’s collection and, debuting in 1994, 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.
Coinciding with the 30th anniversary, Yurman is debuting a limited collection of cable bracelets and other pieces using rare stones he’s acquired over three decades. “I’m a bit of a rock hound,” the designer admits. “It was all about reinventing the classic but also going full-out, using the most amazing stones in our archives. We’re doing six styles in six colors, and then I’ll retire them.” The “them” he’s referring to are the limited-edition styles. The cable bracelet, he assures, is here to stay. Says Yurman: “We’ll never let that go away.”