Temple St. Clair is a nominee for a Luxist Award in the Best Jewelry Line category.
Have you ever walked through the Renaissance halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wished you could create some of the gorgeous earrings and pendants featured prominently in the portraits? Designer Temple St. Clair has been doing that for over two decades. St. Clair was exposed to jewelry-making while earning her masters in Italian literature in Florence. After her visiting mother left her with an ancient coin and a sketch to turn into a ring, she ventured to the ancient Palazzo dell'Orafo of Florentine goldsmiths, where she fell in love with the centuries-old art of Italian jewelry making.
St. Clair began making pieces for herself, which led for family and friends to ask for their own unique pieces. She was discovered by a Barneys scout in 1986, who invited her to show her collection in New York to the Pressman family, who still owned Barneys at the time. She returned in the fall with a collection, starting both the jewelry department at Barneys, and her own career as a jewelry designer.
"It was really exciting because they'd never had any fine jewelry," St. Clair tells Luxist. "And of course I was completely new to this. And at the time I was starting to come back and spend more time in New York, so I was sort of spending my time between here and Italy. And they would call me every time something sold." While St. Clair started at the original Barneys on 17th St., her collection moved with them uptown and even when they opened a store in Tokyo. Today the Temple St. Clair collection is based in New York and sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, as well as at over 100 retailers worldwide.
Her various collections still draw from history but also from a wealth of other sources, drawing on myth and legend in astronomy, mermaids, celestial and astrological. Ever since her start in the 80s, when Candice Bergen rang her up, Temple St. Clair has been sought out by celebrities who want to personally buy pieces to wear. From Nicole Kidman to Naomi Watts to Renee Zellweger to Janet Jackson to Anjelica Houston, her collectors are as diverse as her collection. Temple St. Clair designs for strong, individual women who choose pieces to complement their own style.
"I like unusual materials, because I think in jewelry in particular, so much jewelry has become mass marketed, to the point where for me it's not even really a true jewel anymore," St. Clair tells Luxist. "A true jewel has great craftsmanship, and really great, unusual material, so that it becomes an individual piece for someone, and really a collector's item." What sets the Temple St. Clair's jewelry collection apart from other lines is its focus on individual craftsmanship and rare, exotic gems in gorgeous colors. St. Clair does not produce in mass quantities, but rather creates one-of-a-kind pieces that will become family heirlooms.
Vote now for your pick in the best of breed for luxury jewelry at http://www.luxist.com/awards-vote/accessories-awards. Readers' Choice Awards for jewelry will be announced on December 31st.