Elsa Peretti: Revolutionary designer and artisan
Timeless and versatile
In June 1974, Tiffany & Co joined forces with Italian designer Elsa Peretti and revolutionised the jewellery industry forever. "The day Elsa Peretti became a part of Tiffany & Co was the day we entered a new era in our history of design innovation," said former chairman and CEO Michael J Kowalski.
Known for her originality and instinctive approach to design, Peretti seduced the world with her enchanting and evocative creations that has made her a household name. Forty-one years on, her timeless designs for the renowned American jeweller remain the most sought after, by both young and old, the world over.
Born in Florence, Peretti grew up and was schooled in Rome before enjoying a modelling career in Barcelona. In 1960, she made her way to New York, and it was here in the city that never sleeps, that she would make her mark in jewellery design; with her collections featured on the runways of Giorgio Di Sant'Angelo and Halston.
A masterful sculptor and artisan, Peretti's designs are always closely connected to her love for nature, travelling, and her Italian heritage. But what really makes Peretti an award-winning and revolutionary designer is her knack for reinvention in intriguingly classic forms.
"Style is to be simple," says Peretti, the woman credited for bringing sterling silver back into vogue when no one else thought it possible. "I like to push myself to achieve a certain quality and eliminate the access details." It is this belief in simplicity that has made her creations resonate with a timeless charm till this very day.
"Elsa Peretti's designs are always so chic. She creates beautiful fluid pieces that are timeless and versatile." - Miroslava Duma
1. Bone Cuff
Deeply fascinated by bones since a child, Peretti's iconic Bone Cuff drew inspiration from her visits to the cemetery of a seventeenth century Capuchin church, where rooms were decorated with human bones. "My mother had to send me back, time and again, with a stolen bone in my little purse," she says. "Things that are forbidden remain with you forever." A true work of art, the Bone Cuff is sculpted to curve sensually and fluidly around the wrist.
2. Diamonds by the Yard
Composed of single bezel-set diamonds on long gold chains, Diamond by the Yard was Peretti's first diamond design for Tiffany & Co, and is proof that a diamond's personality will always be strong and evocative regardless of the carat size. "If diamonds are mounted like this, the light is different. They look like drops of light, like a stream — very modern," explains Peretti. It is this simple and understated approach to diamonds that has made Diamonds by the Yard a perennial favourite.
3. Open Heart
Iconic and deeply cherished, the Open Heart is an Elsa Peretti signature motif created during the designer's early days at Tiffany & Co. She credits the sculptor Henry Moore, known for his abstract work with open spaces, as her inspiration. Mirroring the same concept, Peretti created an open space within a heart. Elegant and chic in its design, the pendant moves gracefully when worn with a chain necklace.
On her visits to Portofino, Italy in the 1960s, Elsa Peretti was inspired by beautiful women carrying gardenias in their hands. Wishing to create something that would prevent the flowers from withering too quickly, she quickly sketched an idea of antique miniature water jugs worn around the neck, which would eventually materialise into one of her designs. Its sculptural simplicity has made it another signature jewellery line for Tiffany & Co.
- Image: Josh Haskin
- Image: Carola Polakov
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