Elsa Peretti, Famed Tiffany & Co Designer, Dies At 80
Elsa Peretti was one of the jewellery industry’s most prolific figures and worked up until her death last week at age 80. In October, Tiffany & Co collaborated with the designer for nine one-of-a-kind high jewellery creations that were based on archival sketches.
The collection was unveiled to celebrate 45 years since Peretti began working with Tiffany & Co, as well as 50 years since the launch of her iconic Bone cuff, which was most recently worn by Gil Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984 (2020).
The cuff, which retails at US$16,000 in yellow gold, has also been worn by Angelina Jolie, Margot Robbie and Naomi Watts, among others.
Peretti would go on to create dozens of Tiffany & Co's most popular designs, dreaming up such seminal items as the Bottle pendant, inspired by Italian girls who carried flowers in small vases around their necks and the fluid Open Heart pendant. She completed over 30 collections for the brand and, over time, her pieces came to account for about 10% of Tiffany & Co’s sales.
Born in Florence, Peretti spent the early-1960s modelling in Spain before moving to New York where she began making jewellery for ready-to-wear designers like Giorgio di Sant' Angelo and Halston. In 1975, she famously posed in a Playboy Bunny outfit for Helmut Newton on Halloween.
Despite her well-to-do upbringing and high-flying connections, Peretti spent most of her life living in the secluded Catalan village of Sant Martí Vell in Spain.
“Elsa was responsible for a revolution in the world of jewellery design,” read a statement by Tiffany & Co, which described the Italian as “a woman who was larger-than life”. America was in the throes of second-wave feminism when Peretti first joined the brand in the 1970s, and she worked to make jewellery more accessible to women who were shopping for themselves rather than being gifted pieces by men.
Peretti was also passionate about supporting the environment, which is partly why nature features so frequently in her designs. She founded The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation (named for her father), which was dedicated to wildlife conservation. The non-profit has since expanded to support civil-rights causes, education, medical research and more.