By Manon Crespi
American fine jeweler Temple St Clair celebrates 30 years of storytelling through imaginative designs, precious materials and meticulous craftsmanship. Her jewelry sojourn began in Florence, Italy, where she continues to employ the masterful skills of Florentine goldsmiths who have carried out her creative vision for the past 30 years. In my interview with St Clair, I learned that she hails from a family of world travelers, explorers, readers and lovers of art. She is also passionate about history and animals; both of which have starring roles in the evolution of her jewelry.
Arguably, one of greatest achievements marking Temple St Clair’s 30-year anniversary is the masterpiece of her haute couture trilogy collection, the Golden Menagerie. The Golden Menagerie is a high-art jewelry collection of jeweled creatures. The collection is comprised of 28 one-of-a-kind pieces of 18K gold with precious gemstones, which is categorized into three chapters: Mythical Creatures, Wings of Desire and most recently, the Big Game.
St Clair documents this haute couture trilogy with great care and thoughtful insights in her newly released collectors’ edition book, the Golden Menagerie, published by Assouline. The book is filled with glossy, gold leafed pages of St Clair’s sketches, watercolor paintings and photographs, which beautifully articulate her creative process in developing the Golden Menagerie trilogy. Through St Clair’s commentary on inspiration, muse, choice of gemstones and goldsmith techniques, along with purposefully chosen quotations found in the book, the reader is given a window into the backstory of each jewelry piece. The reader is also given a glimpse into the life experiences, values and personal philosophies of the artist.
Temple St Clair 18K yellow gold Medusa Moon Jellyfish ring with 9.59 carats Andamooka opal, 3.63 carats Lightning Ridge black opal, 0.91 carats diamond, 0.62 carats tsavorite, 0.55 carats hauyn and 0.41 carats sapphire, price on request, templestclair.com
Part one of the Golden Menagerie trilogy is Mythical Creatures, a collection of nine unique animals portrayed in a fairytale-like way. It debuted in 2015 with critical acclaim during Paris Haute Couture at the Louvre’s Les Arts Décos. In her book, the Golden Menagerie, St Clair says of Mythical Creatures, “The collection is a celebration of childlike wonder at the natural universe and our desire to endow it with meaning and magic.” And endow it she does with pieces like her Medusa Moon Jellyfish ring, made with 18K yellow gold, natural rock crystal, rare Australian Andamooka opal, Lightning Ridge black opals, colored diamonds, sapphires, tsavorite garnet, and electric blue hauyne.
Temple St Clair 18K yellow gold Swan ring with 2.26 carats Ceylon sapphire and 0.84 carats diamond; 18K yellow gold Gazelle ring with 1.92 carats yellow sapphire, 0.70 carats diamonds and 0.24 carats emerald; 18K yellow gold Lion ring with 0.67 carats Ceylon sapphire, 0.75 carats diamonds and 2.50 carats ruby, all price on request, templestclair.com
Wings of Desire is part two of the Golden Menagerie trilogy, which saw it’s debut in November 2015 at New York City’s Salon of Art + Design. Wings of Desire has a trilogy of its own with Falconi, Superheroes and Fantasy Birds. This remarkable collection of 11 one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces draws upon St Clair’s love and knowledge of history, and how winged animals have been illustrated across cultures throughout the ages. Of her Superheroes rings, the Swan, the Gazelle, the Lion, the Pegasus and the Hippocampus, St Clair says, “I present each animal in a statuesque pose, placed on a pedestal. Each seems to have just landed from another realm, with details that are evidence of its earthly and celestial origins.” These details are found in the intricate carvings of the 18K gold Superheroes along with their precious stones of Ceylon sapphires, yellow sapphires, emeralds, rubies and diamonds.
Temple St Clair 18K yellow gold Rhinoceros ring with 0.002 carats Ceylon sapphire, 0.43 carats diamonds, 0.61 carats emerald and 33.50 carats aquamarine, price on request, templestclair.com
The Golden Menagerie’s final chapter is the Big Game, a collection of eight one-of-a-kind pieces born of St Clair’s concern for the growing extinction of animals and other species. While a few of the pieces in this collection are in fact big game animals, the collection’s title has an altogether different meaning. Again, in her Golden Menagerie collector’s book, St Clair declares of the Big Game, “This collection of jewels represents the big game that we play, and the gamble that we take, if we do not pay attention to the state of the beings with whom we share the planet.” One of the animals said to be on its way to extinction is the majestic rhinoceros, which St Clair so beautifully pays homage to in her 18K yellow gold Rhinoceros ring with aquamarine, Ceylon sapphire, emerald and diamonds. The Big Game debuted at DeLorenzo in New York City in December 2016.
Temple St Clair 18K yellow gold Tolomeo pendant with 0.32cts dark blue sapphire, 0.38cts ruby, 0.62cts medium orange sapphire, 0.8cts light orange sapphire, 0.84cts light green sapphire, 0.66cts tsavorite, 0.86cts medium blue sapphire, 0.52cts light blue sapphire, 0.46cts lavender sapphire, 0.7cts pink sapphire, 0.36cts blue sapphire, 0.135cts diamonds, $25,000, templestclair.com
Temple St Clair is rounding out her 30-year anniversary celebration with yet another feather in her cap with the permanent placement of her Tolomeo pendant, a piece from another collection, in Les Arts Décos at the Louvre Museum. The 18K yellow gold Tolomeo pendant is made with sapphires and diamonds. Click here to see more incredible creatures of the Golden Menagerie.