Style Has a Name: Elsa Peretti

Italian fashion model, designer and philanthropist, Elsa Peretti (1940-2021)

Style has a name, and it is Elsa Peretti. The fashion model-turned-jewelry designer for Tiffany & Co is remembered for her timeless jewelry designs that transcends the ages, even as trends come and go. Born in Florence in 1940, Peretti studied interior design, and worked for the Milan architect Dado Torrigiani before pursing a career as a fashion model, first in Barcelona, then New York. She started designing jewelry for a handful of fashion designers in the late 1960s, and her talent was soon spotted by Bloomingdale’s, one of New York’s largest department stores which opened a dedicated Peretti boutique in 1972. Two years later, Peretti signed a contract with Tiffany & Co to design silver jewelry, the first time Tiffany had sold jewelry in that material in 25 years. By 1979, she became the firm’s leading designer.

Peretti died at her home in Spain 2021 at the age of 80. Her jewelry and design pieces for Tiffany & Co. now grace the 20th century collections of the British Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Selected works of Elsa Peretti

Peretti’s “thumbprint” design is one of her most famous creations. This piece is in cobalt glass. 11″ diameter.
Small bone cuff; L: in black finish over copper, R: in silver. 4.4 cm wide.
Sevillana™ Ring. This intriguing ring takes an elliptical form and is in sterling silver with black jade.
High Tide Earring. Inspired by the ebb and flow of the sea, this design echoes the simple beauty of nature in the graceful curve that recalls rippling waves. This piece is in 18k rose gold.
Teardrop earring. Reminiscent of a solitary raindrop or a shining bead of morning dew, this design is cast in 18k gold and sterling silver. 10 mm long.
The classic and ever-popular open-heart pendant, seen here in 18k gold. 22 mm wide.
Mesh scarf necklace. Malleable and ergonomic in the way it drapes over the body’s contours, this scarf necklace is in 18k gold. 107 cm long.
Amapola sterling silver red silk poppy flower brooch pin, 11.4 cm long.
Bean purse. Defined by a smooth silhouette, this purse is expressed in red lacquer and silver creations. 16.5 cm wide.
Designed in 1978, this pair of silver candlesticks is in the form of a stylized bone, electroformed in fine silver. H: 35.6 cm. The candlestick is exhibited in the British Museum.

Silver platter. 40.6 cm across. Although Peretti mainly designed jewelry for Tiffany & Co, she also designed some cutlery range with the same organic and flowing form.
Cake plate in handmade, mouth-blown Venetian glass with 24k gold leaf. 25.4 cm diameter. An example is in the collection of the British Museum.
Perfume bottle in rock crystal (1981). Peretti spent four years developing and perfecting this perfume bottle which she defined as “very floral and very rich”. The bottle is hand-carved out of a single piece of rock crystal by the most skilled artisans in Hong Kong and is produced in limited edition of a thousand pieces. An example is in the collection of the British Museum.
The body of the bottle is curved in shape to echo a bean, with separate stopper.
She is a woman of almost awesome chic, looking as dazzling in a beat-up men’s fedora as she does in a Halston ball gown,’ wrote the fashion critic Bernadine Morris of Elsa Peretti in the 1978 book ‘The Fashion Makers’.

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