Synopses & Reviews
An exquisite look into the art of fine jewelry making, through the eyes of famed designer Temple St. Clair
A Southern girl with a nomadic spirit and a voracious appetite for history and culture, Temple St. Clair grew up spending summer vacations in Morocco and Bavaria, studied at an international boarding school in Switzerland, and went night diving in Honduras with the son of Jacques Cousteau. In her early twenties, St. Clair landed in Florence, where she completed a master's in Italian literature. In fact, she had no exposure to jewelry making until her visiting mother bought an ancient coin and asked St. Clair to commission a local goldsmith to make a piece of jewelry around it.
Armed with the coin and a sketch, St. Clair entered the ancient Palazzo dell'Orafo of Florentine goldsmiths, where she first discovered the centuries-old art of fine Italian jewelry making. Inspired by the distinctive craftsmanship, St. Clair continued to work with artisans to bring her designs to life. A new world soon began to open up to her—a world that engaged her multicultural education, vast experiences, and rich curiosity; a world that awarded her with a new identity as "an amateur anthropologist, a hopeless hunter and gatherer, a bit of a wanderer, and a self-made jewelry historian who loves to dream and draw."
With an artist's eye for detail and an unwavering esteem for the historic, St. Clair creates one-of-a-kind pieces that combine ancient influences with traditional craftsmanship and contemporary flair. In Alchemy, she takes readers on an idiosyncratic excursion into the intricate history and craft of jewelry making—from the ancient origins of talismans and charms, to the complicated pursuit of the perfect gemstone—all through the lens of her own fascinating experiences. The result is a mesmerizing and visually stunning book that will appeal to jewelry lovers, artistic dreamers, and anyone who suffers from wanderlust.
“A Renaissance woman.” Travel and Leisure
“With her proper private-school upbringing in Virginia, penchant forescape, and genteel-sounding name, Temple St. Clair Carr is the kind ofwoman Henry James might have immortalized as a heroine.” Elle
“An illuminating memoir.” In Style
“St. Clair presents a quirkily luxurious scrapbook of the experiences that led her to jewelry design, beginning in her junior year abroad in Italy, when she hunted down a Florentine artisan to help her make a necklace for her mother.” New York Times
Part captivating memoir, part gorgeous coffee-table book, Alchemy offers an exclusive look into the art of fine jewelry making, by way of famed designer Temple St. Clair and the eclectic sources of her aesthetic inspiration.
About the Author
Working in an airy studio above the streets of New York's SoHo, Temple St. Clair draws inspiration from varied and far-flung sources: a color in a Mannerist painting, an architectural element in a Venetian church or a Kyoto temple, the shifting shades of the sea. In her designs, as in her life, she blends a modern aesthetic with a deep love of art, history, and storytelling. In combining exquisite materials and craftsmanship in an old world tradition with an independent and modern spirit of design, Temple creates distinctive jewelry for the modern woman. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.