Daniel Gibbings is one of the world's premier jewelers, whose clients include Hollywood celebrities, fashion models, and other discerning individuals that are drawn to his unique, classically inspired designs, and eye for detail. He is also a veteran adventurer whose exploits draw comparisons to Benvenuto Cellini, the famed Florentine soldier turned legendary sculptor and metalsmith.
Born in South Africa in 1958, Daniel grew up in the colonial town of Durban on the Indian Ocean coast, the son of an optician father and seamstress mother. As a child, Daniel became fascinated with the intricate carvings and beadwork of the Zulu culture, and collected it for many years.
In the late 1970s, Daniel served as an army conscript in the Angolan war, and along the Mozambiquan border. He then left his homeland to seek adventure. He later spent time in Israel working on a kibbutz on the shores of the Dead Sea, and then moving to the old Arab town of Jaffa, where he took silversmithing lessons from an elderly Yemeni man who taught him the ancient skills of jewelry making entirely by hand. He then moved to the ancient artists' colony of Tzfat in the Galilee, where he set up his first working studio.
After 4 years, Daniel made his way to London via Egypt where he spent some time exploring all the ancient sites, including a trek through the Sinai Desert. Once in London, Daniel was accepted into the City of London Polytechnic, now the London Metropolitan University, where he enrolled in the art department, focusing on metalsmithing. During this time, Daniel spent many hours at the British Museum, sketching and studying the beautiful objects from antiquity on display.
This training helped launch Daniel on the next phase of his career in designing and handcrafting jewelry. In the late 1980s, he left Europe for the United States. Always busy crafting new work in new environs, Daniel operated several studios across the country, first in Boston, then Portland, Maine, Santa Fe, and finally Santa Barbara. Daniel continues to showcase his work at his shop on Coast Village Road in Montecito.
Daniel's favorite metals are pure silver and 22 karat gold. He often combines the two metals in his intricate creations, which also feature coins and other artifacts as well as precious gem stones. Although Daniel used to travel to Africa and Asia to meet with gem brokers close to the source of the stones, he now works exclusively with industry leaders who ensure that every stone he decorates is genuine, traceable, and was not mined in a conflict zone.
Making jewelry that becomes part of the fabric of the life of the client, something that can be passed down the generations and used in important milestone events of the family, is what continues to motivate Daniel as a jeweler. "To create something of beauty is a gift," he explains. "It's from the earth, organic, and to make something that people cherish is extraordinary."