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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Temple St. Clair Enters the World of High Jewelry

Flying Fish bracelet made with sapphire, Paraiba tourmaline, tsavorite and Royal Blue Moonstone.


Luxury jewelry designer Temple St. Clair held a public unveiling of her first high jewelry collection at The Salon: Art + Design show in New York. 

Titled Mythical Creatures each of the nine, one-of-kind pieces represents artistic representations of the work she has done for 30 years. Nature themes with more colored gemstones, a few either extremely rare or almost never used for jewelry, used in a variety of intricate ways go together with the goldsmith and jewelry craftsmen in Florence, many of whom having with St. Clair for decades. The pieces are complex and elaborate but still retain a sense of refinement.

Secret Garden Serpent necklace made with tsavorite scales, a tanzanite head, Royal Blue Moonstone eyes and diamond accents.

To reinforce their status as works of art and collectibles, she collaborated with artists outside of the jewelry world to create a complete individual package for each piece. Her main partner in this project is fine contemporary artist and personal friend, Nancy Lorenz—known for working with precious materials such as mother-of-pearl inlay, lacquer, and gold leaf—who created a signature jewel box for each piece. She also brought in the services of photographer Robert Clark, best known for his work with National Geographic. His stylized photographs, along with St. Clair’s sketches and stories behind each piece are included in a personalized, hand-bound leather book designed and built in Florence. The book and each jewel are sized to fit inside the wooden box, which were made in Kyoto and then lined in leather in Florence.

Sleeping Fox ring made with spinel, mandarin garnet, emerald & diamond.

The display at The Salon: Art + Design art show at The Park Avenue Armory in New York, opened Friday and runs till Monday, is the first public viewing of the jewelry creations. The only other public viewing will be at Les Arts Decoratifs, January 29, 2015, during Paris’ Haute Couture Week. After that, these pieces, which are commanding six-figure prices, will be sold and delivered to private owners. In fact, in an interview months ago, St. Clair says that the interest is so strong that she expects the entire collection will be sold before the Paris exhibition. 

Sea Dragon earrings using emeralds, rubies, sapphires, Royal Blue Moonstone and diamond..

For St. Clair this project is the culmination of a life in jewelry, art and design. 

“Three years in actually making (the collection) and 30 years of having it come together,” St. Clair said during an interview in her New York studio. “I do a lot of bespoke work in the high jewelry realm (for private clients) but I haven’t worked in that realm necessarily on my own. And most of the bespoke work and high jewelry work goes to individuals. So we can’t show it or really talk about it that much. This is my first entrance into this level.” 

Medusa Moon Jellyfish ring in 18k gold with Australian Andamooka opal, Lightening Ridge black opal, sapphire, tsavorite, hauyn & rock crystal.

She continued, “I love nature and animals so I played with my interpretation. I refer to them as my mythical creatures but I’m actually making natural creatures mythical.” 

Each piece uses a variety of gemstones, cut, polished and set in many ways. Several are extremely rare, such as Paraiba tourmaline and Australian Andamooka opal. One gem known as hauyn, considered too soft to be set in jewelry, makes an appearance in at least one piece. 

Phoenix Chicks earrings using 18k gold with tanzanite, Lightening Ridge black opal, tourmaline, Royal Blue Moonstone, tsavorite & sapphire.

“No one puts this in jewelry,” she said. “I’ve seen it for years at gem shows but I’m told it’s only for collectors, not to be put in jewelry. But we managed.”

In addition, a variety of gem setting techniques and elaborate gold adornments are used for each item. They are extremely complex pieces. For example, the Secret Garden Serpent necklace has more than 1,000 gems. Green garnet serpent tsavorite cut in cabochons is used for the vertebrae, finely crafted with flexible joints to give it a proper look and feel.

“He feels so real and scaly,” she said.

Turtles on the Rocks ring using 18K gold with diamonds and ParaĆ­ba tourmalines. 

Some pieces move with the light like the Flying Fish bracelet, which is taken from her time spent at sea actually viewing these fishes. Different shades of green tsavorite along with various blue gems (Paraiba tourmaline, blue sapphires and blue moonstones) are used to recreate the changing colors of scales when it reflected in the sun. 

“You catch a fish and turn it at different angles and it shows its colors differently,” she said. “It’s a super intricate piece. I’ve seen flying fish so I know what they should look like.”

Frog Prince ring in 18k gold with Mandarin garnet, tsavorite, sapphire and cat's eye.

St. Clair says that as her children have grown and become more independent and with her business is doing well, she is able to take time to create in new ways, which will lead to similar projects in the future.  

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