Mention the name Elsa Peretti and jewellery aficionados everywhere will nod their heads in approval. After all, the world-renowned jewellery designer—who is synonymous with Tiffany & Co—has given the world a wealth of designs that have come to stand as emblems of timeless elegance. Characterised by stylised shapes and organic lines executed by a skilled steady hand, her creations stand as glittering examples of her belief that “good line and good form are timeless.” Throw in a gleeful play on materials and textures into the heady mix and you’ve got a range of designs that are as varied and dauntless as the life of the award-winning designer herself.
Here’s a look at her four-decade long relationship with storied jewellery house.
Born in Florence, Italy, Peretti was a French language teacher before she returned to Rome to pursue a degree in interior design. By 1969, her life took yet another turn when she established herself as a fashion model in New York and Barcelona, while also designing jewellery that was used by fashion designers for their runway presentations.
Tiffany & Co. introduced the Elsa Peretti Collection the same year Peretti embarked on her journey with the jewellery house. It was a move that signalled a new era for Tiffany: Her wide-reaching inspirations ran the spectrum of living things (such as sea stars and snakes), right to the abstract with teardrops and the humble bean lending their shapes to her imagination. Working primarily in sterling silver, the collection boasts a treasure trove of materials and textures as found on her exquisite mesh necklaces and earrings; to Padova, her patented 32-piece sterling silver flatware set; not to mention, her much desired Diamonds by the Yard.
In the early ’80s, her collections expanded to include china, crystal and silver designs. Just like her previous works, they were applauded for their shapes and textures. This decade was also significant for Peretti in terms of recognition of her work: She received the President’s Fellow award from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1981; Fashion Group’s “Night of the Stars” award in 1986; and in 1987, she received the Cultured Pearl Industry award as part of her contributions to boosting the usage of pearls in jewellery design.
This year marked the 25th year of Peretti’s contributions to Tiffany & Co. In recognition of her unwavering dedication, the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewellery Design was put into place at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) by the brand. Two short years later, Peretti is awarded the doctorate in Fine Arts from FIT; and the Elsa Peretti jewellery case is recognised as a Tiffany landmark at the brand’s Fifth Avenue store.
In 2009, a selection of Peretti’s jewellery and designs was presented to the British Museum, and added to its collection of modern design—a testament to the timelessness and influence of her work on the world of design.
Having received numerous awards over the years, including the Divine Design Award for Jewellery in 1994 and Accessory Designer of the year in 1996, Peretti’s designs are now available to be adorned by every woman worldwide. Take a trip down to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, to be enthralled by her works that are on display there perennially.