Since Temple St. Clair founded her jewelry brand in 1986, there was one notable business milestone that she had not achieved: opening her own boutique.
That is changing this week, with the opening of an 800-square-foot store on Washington Street in New York City’s meatpacking district. It stands at street level along a tranquil — at least by New York standards — corridor with luxurious neighbors such as Christian Louboutin and the fragrance purveyor Kilian Paris, and just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Whitney Museum of American Art.
“Timing is everything, right?” said Ms. St. Clair, 63. “Not only have we seen a convergence of working with all these different artisans but also my team right now — Joe Cavalcante is president; Sam Romanoff, V.P. of marketing — has really expanded our client services, our high touch level.”
And as a self-professed “Downtown person,” whose studio and home also are below the unofficial Manhattan demarcation line of 14th Street, she said the location was a “perfect fit.”
Ms. St. Clair sees the space, awash in a periwinkle-adjacent color that she and her team call Temple Blue, as an embodiment of her brand, which traces much of its inspiration to the Renaissance. It “brings my worlds together,” she said. “New York is my entrepreneurial, business center. Florence is my creative center. These two parts of myself are coming together here, along with my love of artisans and hand touch.”
An eight-foot glass-topped vitrine that she calls “the story table” bisects the first of two rooms dedicated to her creations. It holds a small exhibition tracing the evolution of her designs, starting with her earliest jewelry featuring ancient coins, along with some archival items and pieces representing the business’s core collections.
Currently on show are a Sassini cuff with granulated details, representing some of her initial work in gold, along with her namesake, bezel-set Temple rings with central colored gemstones flanked by three diamonds on each side. One of her Tolomeo pendants, a design featuring concentric, rotating sapphire-set rings, is also on view; it depicts the astronomical theory that earth was the center of the universe (the same design is on permanent display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris).“It is like a little journey,” she said of the table display, “a timeline of jewelry.”
Beyond a pair of sliding glass and steel doors with brass handles and rosette details, a second, more intimate space houses additional wall-mounted jewelry displays and an armoire with illuminated drawers that Ms. St. Clair said were “openable by clients” to give them “an element of surprise and discovery.” She intends to have a rotating assortment of jewelry inside: suites with the kind of colorful gems — black opal, blue moonstone, tanzanite — she favors, celestial-themed pendants and other signature items.
A picture rail has been mounted along the walls of the second room to accommodate art installations. “I want it to be an exhibit space, whether for my own watercolors, portraits from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, or other activations,” Ms. St. Clair said. (In 2021, the brand commissioned Sharif Hamza to photograph members of the dance company wearing Temple St. Clair jewelry to mark the start of the season.)
While her brand is available in independent shops such as Mad Lords in Paris and department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Wako in Tokyo, she also has a following that makes big-ticket purchases directly from her website — like the buyer of an $85,000 18-karat gold and diamond bracelet depicting the sun, moon and stars and incorporating a functional sundial. For clients who prefer shopping for such pieces in person, the boutique will be the only retail location where Temple St. Clair high jewelry will be displayed, alongside exclusive products with more accessible prices, like personalized rock crystal amulets (from $3,250).
The Riccardo Barthel studio of Florence worked on the shop’s interior design. As with her jewelry — much of which is manufactured in Florence and Valenza, Italy, as well as workshops in the United States, Bangkok and Sri Lanka — most of the boutique’s features were made in Italy.
Ms. St. Clair said she participated actively in the design project, contributing objects from her travels, such as a pair of Gustavian chairs she had purchased in Paris and pendant light fixtures she commissioned from the Turkish fabric artist Betil Dagdelen.
Edahn Golan, a diamond and jewelry industry analyst and the founder of the data trend company Tenoris, said a store could amplify selling opportunities. “Selling jewelry is about telling a story,” he said. “If you bring someone into your own universe, you can sell more units for more.”
And a store’s existence could draw attention from more than just potential clients, he noted: “Let’s say you want out or to expand a lot. If you want to attract the attention of Richemont or LVMH, then that’s how you do it. ”
Ms. St. Clair said she believed that her company, which she owns, had traits in common with those powerhouses. “We’re a little maison,” she said. “We have iconic jewelry. We have a history.”
And she intends to devote lots of attention to its newest phase. “I will be in the store,” she said. “All the time.”