A REVOLUTIONARY AND INNOVATOR OF JEWELRY DESIGN, WHOSE CREATIONS ARE AS MODERN TODAY AS THEY WERE DECADES AGO
Her designs for Tiffany & Co. are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museums of Fine Arts in Boston and Houston, and the British Museum in London.
Her Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has been providing support to local communities in projects relating to environmental and biodiversity conservation, social inclusion and welfare, poverty relief, education, human rights, medical care and research, arts and culture since the year 2000, with over EUR 50 million donated to more than 900 projects worldwide.
Her laconic, deceptively simple, balanced and cool designs remain as up-to-date and voguish today as they were at the moment of their creation in the 1970s and 1980s.
She is Elsa Peretti: a fashion model, philanthropist and one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, who changed the face of jewelry with her legendary creations for Tiffany & Co. Over nearly half a century of their collaboration, she created more than 30 iconic designs for the American luxury jeweller, accounting for around 10 percent of Tiffany’s annual sales.
Elsa Peretti revolutionized jewelry by choosing organic, clean lines over pompous shapes heavy with big, dramatic stones and excessive extravagance. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, she said: “You need to be able to go out on the street with your jewelry. Women can’t go around wearing $1 million.” With this in mind, she elevated silver, forgotten and abandoned by fine jewelry, to a luxury material, making luxury jewelry more affordable and appropriate for daily adornment.
Her most famous creation, suitable both for a sweet, shy teenager and for a free-spirited, sensual adult woman, is the elegant, minimalist Open Heart Pendant, currently available at Tiffany & Co. in a variety of metals, in black jade, sky-blue turquoise or gentle pink rhodonite, gem-encrusted or plain, masterfully reshaped into rings, bracelets, even belt buckles.
The fabulous Bone Cuff by Elsa Peretti opened a whole new era in the world of jewelry. Deceptively simple, this ground-breaking piece stole the hearts of many celebrities of the 70s, and continues to do so today. Liza Minnelli, Catherine Deneuve, Naomi Watts, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sophia Loren and Angelina Jolie have all incorporated this trend-setting piece in their image at some point in their careers.
These minimalist, metallic cuffs, often worn on both hands and repeating the contours of the wearer’s wrist, were reimagined by Elsa Peretti after seeing monks’ bones during a childhood visit to an old church.
Alongside the Diamonds by the Yard Pendant Necklace, the kinetic, fabric-like Mesh Earrings, the clean and organic Bean and Bottle pendants, these jewelry designs confidently entered the annals of style and fashion and will remain the benchmark of elegance and pure, feminine beauty for centuries to come.
It is never easy to get a simple design right. Elsa was a master of rendering complicated beauty in simple, perfect and glorious form.
Elsa Peretti died in her sleep on March 18, 2021.
She once remarked: “People are forgotten so fast. I want to survive.” And survive she will: in the history of jewelry design, Tiffany & Co, and in every piece inspired by her progressive, insightful ideas.