Temple St. Clair's Latest Jewelry Collection Is Inspired by Florence — Here Are Her Picks Around the City

In the birthplace of the Renaissance, centuries-old artistic traditions are alive and well.

Jewelry designer Temple St Clair on a balcony in Florence
Temple St. Clair on the balcony of Florence’s Palazzo Corsini, wearing jewelry of her own design. Photo: Courtesy of Temple St. Clair

As a student of Italian art and literature in Florence in the early 1980s, Temple St. Clair did not expect to fall into the world of jewelry making.

Then her mother came to visit, bought an ancient coin as a souvenir, and asked for help finding a local goldsmith to turn it into a piece of jewelry. St. Clair wandered into the Casa dell'Orafo, in Florence's long-standing goldsmith's quarter, and found herself mesmerized by the artisans' craftsmanship. She was hooked — and founded her namesake jewelry line in Florence in 1986. That same year, Barneys New York commissioned its first fine jewelry line from her studio.

Gold cuffs and locket from Temple St. Clair
From left: Pyramid cuff with a green tourmaline, Sassini cuff with rubellite tourmalines and a tanzanite, and Pyramid cuff with a pink tourmaline, all in 18-karat gold (prices upon request); classic Temple locket with a pink tourmaline and diamonds in 18-karat gold ($9,500). All styles available at templestclair.com. Courtesy of Temple St. Clair

Known for her signature rock-crystal amulets and statement cocktail rings, as well as the celestial motifs that appear on many of her pieces, St. Clair still relies on the techniques she learned at the Florence Goldsmith Guild years ago. Her Spring 2022 collection, Florence86, pays homage to the city where it all began.

St. Clair now calls New York City home, but continues to visit Florence regularly. "Every day in Florence is punctuated with something surprising and beautiful," she says, "whether it's tasting the recently harvested olive oil that one of my goldsmiths has brought to work or stopping in at a chapel to revisit a favorite painting."

Piles of fabric in a design studio
The fabric room at Riccardo Barthel. Francesco Rastrelli/Courtesy of Riccardo Barthel

Interiors, Italian Style

"One of my favorite treasure troves is the showroom of designer and collector Riccardo Barthel, toward the end of Via de Serragli near the Porta Romana. Riccardo works with his wife, Daniela, and their son Francesco. They are constantly on the hunt at flea markets and estate sales across Europe. This is the place to go for furniture, textiles, and ceramic tiles. Barthel also runs Desinare, a cooking school."

Two photos showing diners in a restaurant, and a bag filled with marbled paper
From left: Dinner at Cantinetta dei Verrazzano; hand-marbled paper and gilding tools at Il Torchio. From left: Courtesy of Cantinetta dei Verrazzano; Elena Bossio/Courtesy of Il Torchio

Buon Appetito

"I usually have my morning cappuccino and fresh juice at the aptly named Caffè degli Artigiani, the 'artisans' café,' before starting the day in the studio with my goldsmiths. After work, I might pop back across the river to Cantinetta dei Verrazzano for a slice of focaccia with peas and stracchino, or to Procacci for a glass of Prosecco and a truffle panino."

A photo showings hand statues, frames, and other objects
Castorina, where four generations of woodworkers have continued their craft. Eleonora Birardi/Courtesy of Castorina 1895

Beauty by Hand

"When I was a student I would have my research papers bound by bookmakers in the Oltrarno, across the river from the historic center; for the last decade or so, my favorite has been Il Torchio, which creates special books of my drawings and watercolors. When I need a mirror frame or unusual props to display my jewelry, I go to the woodworkers at Castorina. If you can imagine a shape, pattern, or detail in wood, Marco Castorina can create it with any finish, including decorative marbling and gold leaf."

Simone Fiordelisi in his marble shop
Simone Fiordelisi in the marble shop he owns, Tavoli di Marmo. Arte Decorative di Simone Fiordelisi/Courtesy of Tavoli di Marmo

"And I often visit the tiny marble workshop Tavoli di Marmo, on Via de' Barbadori. There, slabs of marble are delicately inlaid with stones like lapis, malachite, jasper, and amethyst. They also make custom tabletops with motifs of birds, fruits, flowers, and sea creatures."

A version of this story first appeared in the June 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "The Finer Things."

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