Elsa Peretti, the world-renowned jewelry designer, joined Tiffany & Co. in 1974. That same year Tiffany introduced the Elsa Peretti Collection, launching a new era in American design. The designer’s distinctive approach is characterized by the stylization of natural and organic forms such as bones, beans, hearts, apples, snakes, teardrops and starfish. Though based on real things, these unmistakable designs evoke subtle abstractions and bring a fresh new attitude to jewelry.
Elsa Peretti’s designs are rendered in a variety of materials, but she is best known for her works in sterling silver, which elevated the precious metal to new heights of popularity in jewelry. From exquisite mesh necklaces and earrings, to Padova® sterling silver flatware and her revolutionary Diamonds by the Yard?, Elsa Peretti’s seamless creations are a testament to her ingenuity and design expertise. She has said her designs are dictated by common sense. “For me, good line and good form are timeless.”
“The day Elsa Peretti became a part of Tiffany & Co. was the day we entered a new era in our history of design innovation,” said Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and CEO of Tiffany & Co.
Born in Italy and educated in Rome and Switzerland, she initially made her living teaching French and eventually returned to Rome to pursue a degree in interior design. By 1969 she had established herself as a fashion model in New York and Barcelona, and was also beginning to design her own jewelry. American fashion designer Giorgio di Sant'Angelo used a few of her pieces in a fashion show, which were an instant success. It was also during this time that she met the legendary designer Halston, who became her longtime friend and frequent collaborator.
In the early 1980s, her collections for Tiffany were expanded to include china, crystal and silver designs for the home. Like her jewelry, these new designs were praised for their fluid shape and serene, undulating surfaces.
Of all the column inches dedicated to the artistry of Elsa Peretti, Katherine Betts, editor of TIME Style & Design, most succinctly captures her unique quality. “I think Elsa actually designs for herself, which is what makes her jewelry so personal and attractive to people. Elsa’s style and personality are all over her work, and that is what women look for in jewelry. They want to relate to and understand who has created this piece.” In 1999 Elsa Peretti celebrated her 25th anniversary with Tiffany & Co. In recognition of her remarkable career, Tiffany established the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the first endowed professorship in the history of FIT. In 2001 the designer was presented with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from FIT. In further tribute, the Elsa Peretti jewelry case in Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store was designated a Tiffany landmark.
Among the many other awards Elsa Peretti has received are the 1971 Coty Award for Jewelry, followed by the Rhode Island School of Design President's Fellow Award in 1981, and the 1994 Divine Design Award for Jewelry. And in 1996 the Council of Fashion Designers of America named her the Accessory Designer of the Year.
Elsa Peretti’s designs are available at Tiffany & Co. stores worldwide and are also in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas and The British Museum, London, England.