NEW YORK — Temple St. Clair has been growing fast, but thinks it can do even better.
The fine jewelry house founded 20 years ago and known for its bold use of gemstones, like blue moonstone, beryl and mint green tourmaline, has been growing 50 percent a year over the past three years and has evolved into a $10 million business, according to Paul Engler, chief operating officer and husband to the firm’s designer and founder, Temple St. Clair Carr.
Following a strategic shift last year in which the firm reacquired the stake that Tiffany & Co. bought in 2002, Engler has plans to grow the company by another 80 percent by the close of 2006. His focus will largely be on the firm’s wholesale business.
“Most of the growth we are seeing right now is coming from existing doors,” said Engler.
The company’s current distribution includes Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as about 100 guild and specialty jewelry stores, such as Reinhold Jewelers in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Mitchell’s of Westport, in Westport, Conn., and Andrisen Morton in Denver. Engler hopes to add up to 20 new doors by year’s end.
He is also planning on opening Temple St. Clair stores in New York and Los Angeles within the next two years. Temple St. Clair has one boutique that opened in 2003 at The Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J. Another boutique in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., closed in September.
St. Clair Carr started her business as a lark. The Roanoke, Va.-born designer wanted to have a reason to spend her days touring museums after she wrapped up her graduate course work in Renaissance literature in Florence.
“When I started in my 20s, my early mission was to create a lifestyle and my life’s work that would incorporate [my affinity for] exploration,” said St. Clair Carr. “My mission has evolved over the years as I’ve matured.”
St. Clair Carr began designing jewelry like rings and necklaces featuring ancient Aegean or Carthaginian coins set in gold or pendants of colored stones set simply in a gold bezel that were inspired by the Renaissance period. Her designs now showcase modern but feminine pieces with a nod to the past. One signature piece, for instance, comprises a rock crystal egg pendant that is reinvented each season with different stones and gold motifs. Other key looks include oversized colored cabochon cocktail rings set in polished yellow gold with a trio of tiny diamonds flanking the center stone.
In 2005, the designer launched a bridal collection that focuses on engagement ring styles with colored stones and diamonds. All the jewelry is stamped with the Temple St. Clair logo, a motif of a Greek temple, with wholesale prices ranging from $200 to $20,000.
In celebration of her 20 years in business, in March, St. Clair Carr took 17 members of her staff to the birthplace of her inspiration, Florence, for a trip down memory lane.
Also in commemoration of her anniversary, St. Clair Carr has designed 20 signed and numbered lockets of mango green moonstone with a gold vine overlay that each hang from a long gold chain. She will unveil the piece to retailers at the Couture Jewellery Collection & Conference in Las Vegas at the end of this month.
Marie Helene Morrow, owner of Reinhold Jewelers, said Temple St. Clair has been one of the top 10 best-selling brands in her store, which also carries jewelry from David Yurman, John Hardy and Henry Dunay.
“[Temple’s] cherub [coin] necklaces look as relevant today as they did 20 years ago,” said Morrow. “Temple has a sense of elegance, and a sense of time and space that is very unique to her.”