Temple St. Clair remembers her first trip to Japan in the early 1980s with the sort of reverent tone that artists save for their greatest sources of inspiration: “I first went there on a family trip,” she explains, “and it was love at first sight.”

The New York-based jewelry designer, whose rare-colored gemstones and distinctive gold work have earned a place in the permanent collection of the Museum of Decorative Arts at the Louvre in Paris, attributes Japan and Italy as her most profound influences. As St. Clair sees it, jewelry design is her way of telling a story.

The chains from St. Clair’s jewelry collection and the Kyoto roof design that inspired them.

“In Japan, there are chains that hang from the roofs of houses that help guide rainwater to the ground,” she explains. “I sketched them on a trip there many years ago, and that was the basis for one of my earliest pieces, a necklace called the Kyoto chain. There is a symmetry and a balance and a simplicity, a stripping away to the essentials, that is very Japanese. That approach informs so much of what I do.”

A snapshot of fine fabrics from a luxury goods exhibition that St. Clair attends twice a year.

St. Clair attends a luxury goods exhibition in Tokyo twice a year to meet with jewelry collectors who shop there for an exclusive clientele. “There is everything from fine jewelry to watches and rare kimonos, and local artisans are represented there too,” says St. Clair. “I work with ‘gaisho’ — personal shoppers who put ours in the United States to shame. They offer the maximum level of service and do everything for their clients, from sourcing opera tickets to locating a special bag of rice from a specific Japanese island. I am exposed to that level of perfection of service and detail, and it inspires me every day. Even the packaging for our jewelry follows that level of detail with special paper boxes, wrapping and ribbon that the Japanese are so well- known for.”

On these glittery, enchanted biannual Tokyo trips, St. Clair makes time to visit certain favorite places. She shares them here:

KUROSAWA — “This is my comfort food place that I run to whenever I go to Tokyo! The place is named after the famous Japanese film director who was very particular about eating his favorite pork from Kyushu, handmade buckwheat soba noodles, and the list goes on. I love it because it is very personal and authentic, and while it is in Roppongi, an area that attracts many expats, the restaurant is also a favorite among Japanese locals.”

NEZU MUSEUM — “This small museum in the Minato neighborhood is devoted to traditional arts. There are changing exhibits that are always incredible — I’ve seen the most beautiful samurai swords, ironware, ceramics and lacquer ware on display. The contrast between old and new is striking here, too. The traditional art set against the modern architecture of the place is very special. There is also a modern glass tearoom set in a traditional garden. It is an oasis in the city.”

EDO-TOKYO MUSEUM — “This museum is so interesting and takes you through the history of Tokyo through objects and miniatures of the city’s historic buildings. I was there with my husband most recently and we had a brilliant docent who walked us through the galleries. It was fascinating.”

NUNO TEXTILES  — “Friends who live in Tokyo first introduced me to this Roppongi shop, and I have collected some of the most beautiful scarves here — they also sell dresses and shawls. It’s a great example of how the Japanese translate traditional arts into something very abstract and modern. The use of fine threads and patterns is still rooted in the traditions of kimono textiles. The depth of quality is inspiring to me.”