Temple St. Clair Talks Inspiration and Her Golden Menagerie Trilogy
"Wings of Desire," the jewelry designer's second chapter of her trilogy, will be on display at the Louvre in July.
WHO: Temple St. Clair, jewelry designer and founder of Temple St. Clair Fine Jewelry, New York
SIGNATURE STYLE: Fine jewelry made in an old-world tradition with delicate, distinctive gold work and rare color gems to illustrate her themes of the Earth and cosmos
ICONIC COLLECTION: “Mythical Creatures” from the Golden Menagerie, animal-inspired pieces on display at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
WHAT’S COMING UP: “Wings of Desire,” the second chapter of her Golden Menagerie trilogy, will be on display at the Louvre in July to conicide with Paris’ Haute Couture Week.
“My jewelry is imbued with big universal and cultural stories, so it’s a triumph when a specific piece connects with a specific individual and I can see the excitement and passion it brings out in the person.“
NI: Have you always wanted to design jewelry?
St. Clair: I first fell into making jewelry when I was living in Italy and was introduced to the goldsmithing world in Florence. I became fascinated with the history of the artisanal work there. I’m more of a storyteller and artist, it just so happens that I use a precious medium to work in.
Where do you find inspiration for your themes and designs?
My original inspiration was rooted in exploring the ancient history and meaning behind jewelry. Right now, I’m interested in nature—particularly animals and how humans historically related to them through different cultures, including the ways they’re depicted in art, statues, and mythology.
What should fine jewelry be or do for the person who wears it?
Of course, fine jewelry should be beautiful, with materials and craftsmanship that will stand the test of time, but it should also include an emotional connection, which is what I believe makes people treasure it. The design, artistry, or thought behind it has to resonate with the collector.
Which jewelry pieces are your personal favorites?
I’m never without my rock crystal amulet, and I have a ring my husband gave me that I wear every day. My husband recently gave me a Mozambique ruby for our twentieth wedding anniversary. He had my goldsmiths in Florence set it in one of my classic settings, and it’s my favorite piece at the moment because it’s very special to me.
What can you tell me about your Golden Menagerie trilogy?
Last year, I showed the first chapter of jewelry, which included nine one-of-a-kind pieces that were all animals depicted in an endearing, fairy-tale-like fashion. The second chapter is called Wings of Desire, and the pieces are all animals again, but this time they’re depicted in a magical, fantasy kind of way. By the time it’s finished, it’ll be about a seven-year project.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I practice Mysore ashtanga yoga. I also have a beautiful, long-coat German shepherd that I take amazing walks with, and two teenage sons whom I spend a lot of time with. They’re creative; one is in music and another is studying Chinese and is into painting, so we enjoy being in New York City together and visiting its museums and parks.