Stephen Webster is a hip UK jewelry designer with an international reputation, and I realize I should've asked him all about his craft and, I don't know, about the intricate mechanics of working with precious stones or something, but come on, all I wanted to hear about was Madonna. Well, dammit, it's all over his press release: You can't dangle "Stephen was recently on the InStyle Celebrity Weddings TV show for his work with Madonna and Guy Ritchie" in front of a person and expect him to care about anything else. It makes you a better, more self-actualized person to admit that you're the kind of psychotic media whore who wants to know where Madonna's hands have been.
The whole opportunity to talk to Webster was all so very Entertainment Tonight that it would've taken a butch-er man than me to resist, and I don't have the desire to pretend I'll be watching JAG anytime soon. Webster, a fortysomething Britisher with a muss of dark hair and a thick accent, was in town last week to introduce his collection at Turgeon-Raine jewellers, and didn't seem to have any problem with my shamelessness. The guy rolls with the punches; I mean, he's an ex-punk—"The first generation of it: Sid Vicious and all that lot"—who apprenticed in his craft as a teenager with pink hair ("I used to get beaten up all the time").
He said he did eight designs for the Material Girl, and three revisions—"which is a lot for a wedding ring," he'll admit. But he wouldn't tell me what sentiment Madonna had engraved in Guy's diamond-studded platinum band (a romantic message in Latin, of all things).
"I can't tell you that," he laughs. "It was nice. It was very clever, actually. But then you wouldn't expect anything else, would you? She's a smart woman."
I was hoping to hear she'd inscribed "You screw me over, you die" or "I'd better get one good movie out of you." I mean, I'd just seen her happily bashing an octopus against the rocks in Swept Away (don't ask), so I figure she's got to be a handful. But Webster didn't have any horror tales to tell about Madonna, although he acknowledges that working with her was an involved process.
"When I finished [the ring] I said to her, 'I'm nervous,'" he remembers. "She said, 'What are you nervous about? I'm the one who's getting married.' I said, 'Because I've never had such comings and goings about [a ring].' She was never difficult. It was just 'let me see it at every stage.' But she was in L.A. and I was in London, so seeing it at every stage was a big deal. But she said, 'Well, welcome to my world.'"
The real annoyances, he says, are the society wanna-bes—a lesson to the rest of us.
"In fact, that world is really a pain in the ass— the people who are not quite famous . . . enough," he says. "They're really high maintenance. They're not even worth it cuz they're not the real famous people."