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Elsa Peretti: an icon of style and the creative brain behind the most famous Tiffany collections

Elsa Peretti picture portrait Tiffany & Co.

Having worked for Tiffany & Co for over 40 years, Elsa Peretti has amassed a large collection of exquisite designs. Her sensual and organically shaped pieces have become classics, and will forever be staples in the jewelry world.

Author By Holly Albertson

Elsa Peretti started her life in Italy, where she has drawn and continues to seek inspiration. Her career in the fashion world started with modeling, which led her to New York City in 1968. Being super fashionable and highly social, Peretti quickly became involved in the legendary Studio 54 scene of NYC. Here, she met many designers and truly tapped into the NYC fashion sphere.

Her first foray into making jewelry was in 1969 when she stumbled upon a flower vase at a flea market. This object worked as an inspiration trigger. Shortly after, Elsa Peretti created a 2-inch sterling silver bud vase from a piece of leather, which could also be worn around the neck. This piece was worn on the runway show of the designer Giorgio Sant’Angelo, creating a buzz in the jewelry world. Peretti continued to create jewelry, for designers such as Halston and Oscar de la Renta, before landing the client she is most known for, Tiffany & Co.

Elsa Peretti Necklace bottle open bottle pendant
Tiffany & Co. – Bottle Open Bottle Pendant made in sterling silver by Elsa Peretti

Peretti joined Tiffany & Co. in 1974. She has since created over 30 collections for the company, with her pieces accounting for approximately 10% of the company’s net sales. In 2013 she considered leaving the company, but she decided instead to sign a 20 -years contract. It is to be said that it increased her royalties and gave her an immediate payment of $47.3 million!

One of her many trends and statement that we see throughout her pieces is that “Style is to be simple.” Her pieces are very sensual, with organic and simple shapes. Peretti takes inspiration from nature as well as her Italian home country. Perreti’s stamp signature is her ever-use of sterling silver in the jewelry design. Once she made a name for herself at Tiffany in the jewelry department, she went on to create designs for the silver department as well.

Elsa Peretti believed that jewelry should be wearable at all times of the day. As a matter of fact, we can very much see that statement in her revolutionary Diamonds by the Yard collection. These pieces include simple, wearable chains with bezel set diamonds strung throughout. She liked how modern and sleek this design was, as well as the fact that you could wear these diamonds during the day. She changed the way women saw diamonds, for they were not longer just evening accessories.

The 70s were a time of change for women, a time when they were gaining independence. Peretti understood and promoted this, thus creating her Bone Cuff collection. She wanted women to wear something that was just as bold as they were becoming. This organically shaped cuff is made of a large chunk of metal, with no gemstones, wearable day and night. Peretti was also inspired by a childhood memory of finding a human bone at a Church.

Peretti’s obsession with the organic shapes can also be seen throughout her mesh pieces. These freeform, fluid items are a mix between fabric and jewelry. Her Mesh Scarf Necklace can be tied in a way that looks exactly like a scarf. She even created a mesh bra!

Many of Elsa Peretti’s designs were revolutionary and continue to stay in fashion to this day. Her natural and simplistic form is for all women, forever classic. Let’s be patient on what will come next!

Tiffany 6 Co. Diamonds by the Yard Bracelet mounted on rose gold by Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co. – Diamonds by the Yard Bracelet by Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co. Bone Cuff made in sterling silver by Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co. – Bone Cuff made in sterling silver by Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co. Mesh Scarf Necklace made in yellow gold by Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co. – Mesh Scarf Necklace made in yellow gold by Elsa Peretti