Above: Temple St. Clair
Temple St. Clair has much to celebrate these days. In her thirtieth year designing jewelry, her work will be inducted into the permanent collection at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre in Paris, joining only two Americans who share the distinction. The chosen piece is her Tolomeo pendant, a stunning creation with multicolor sapphires in 18K gold. The rotating spheres are meant to represent planetary orbits, and a closer look reveals engraved astronomical and astrological symbols in the delicate gilded rings.
To see St. Clair point out these intricate details on the piece and explain the history behind its conception is to understand her approach to jewelry as a storyteller. During her recent visit to Saks Fifth Avenue The Vault, the designer shared some of the stories behind her most recent work and how she dives into history—even her own—for inspiration.
It started with a coin. While studying in Florence, St. Clair was tasked with turning an ancient coin into a pendant for her mother. Her introduction to Italian artisans and their old- world techniques shifted her attention to gold, and she began to search for more coins to make more necklaces. St. Clair did not set out to work with jewelry but had discovered a way to channel her passion for exploration through this creative outlet. “This is slow jewelry,” she says, referring not just to the process and level of craftsmanship these goldsmiths have perfected, but to the depth of study that goes into each new collection. They’re miniature works of art—each begins with a watercolor sketch—and they call upon the world travels and cultural connections that St. Clair has forged.
For fall, Objet Trouvé recalls the found objects and treasures that leave a lasting imprint; everything from a tree branch to a coin, like the one that led St. Clair on her journey all those years ago. In addition to the natural elements that have been woven into her designs, she’s also included the creatures that have captured her fascination. With the Lion Cub Collection, she’s produced pieces that celebrate the beauty of the animals and support Lion Guardians, a nonprofit in Kenya dedicated to lion conservation. The effort speaks to St. Clair’s aim to preserve—whether it be an animal species or the art of fine jewelry making—and her continued quest to create jewelry that tells the stories of her past, present and future.
The Tolomeo pendant is based on Ptolemy’s theory that the earth is the center of the universe; $25,000
18K trio cluster emerald earrings; $3,950
18K mummy ring withblue sapphire and diamond pavé; $7,500
18K lion cub earrings with diamond pavé; $3,500
Images courtesy of designers/brands