The Inventive Tiffany & Co. Jewellery Designed By The Late Elsa Peretti
The legacy of Elsa Peretti lives on in her legendary creations for the New York luxury jewellery
Born in Florence and educated in Rome and Switzerland, Elsa Peretti went to New York in the late 1960s to be a model. It was in the Big Apple that she started designing jewellery, which led to a collaboration with Halston. She eventually joined Tiffany & Co. in 1974, adding home accessories to her repertoire. Peretti would stay with the New York institution until her passing on March 18, 2021. She was 80.
One of the most stylish women of her generation, Peretti was also one of the most successful jewellery designers; in 2021, Tiffany & Co. famously paid her a one-time multi-million fee. Her legacy will live on in her jewellery, which has been described by Vogue as "sculpture as jewellery, and the most sensuous jewellery in the world.”
Here are 5 of her most legendary creations for Tiffany & Co.:
There's nothing macabre about my love for bones. As a child, I kept visiting the cemetery of a 17th-century Capuchin church with my nanny. All the rooms were decorated with human bones. My mother had to send me back, time and again, with a stolen bone in my little purse. Things that were forbidden to you remain with you forever. Later I was free to collect bones so I designed part of a world of beautiful shapes.
Diamonds by the Yard
The initial idea came from my Aunt Nina's wedding ring. It was one-carat, set in silver with a gold band. My objective is to design according to one's financial possibilities. The rest was easy. Tiffany sold, in 1976, a single diamond on a gold chain for US$89. Adding different sizes—one-carat being the biggest—my creation became Diamonds by the Yard.
The appeal of this natural shape has remained constant for me through the years. And for a long time, I've kept its smoothness at the forefront of my mind when I design.
Open heart pendant
The shape was there, in metal. What I couldn't work out was how to hang it from the chain. Mr Kalich, then head of Tiffany jewellery, then suggested in his strong German accent: 'Why don't we put it through?' I was so overjoyed that I gave my first model to his fiancée.
It's not that I love snakes, but I've seen so many of them that I think they are beautiful.