..."At the beginning of her jewellery career Elsa Peretti became fascinated by mesh she saw being handmade in India. Seeking technical expertise, she contacted New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, which led her to Prof. Samuel Beizer (1931-2000), first director of the jewellery department at FIT, who became a friend and collaborator. He sought out Whiting and Davis, a Massachusetts based company that was known for making mesh of all kinds.
In particular, they were recognized for their pressure metal mesh which was used to make decorated and jewelled evening bags in the early part of the 20th century. Elsa Peretti has always admired them but had been told they had once all been made by hand and it could not be done any more. Intrigued by their intricacy and suppleness, Beizer began to collect them to work out how it was done. He contacted Whiting and Davis, and in about 1974 he and Elsa together were able to rescue some of the old machines, finding an 80-year old former employee who had worked on the machines when he was young. Beizer obtained some sample mesh from Whiting & Davis which he made into earrings, and this gave Elsa an entirely new medium for jewellery and one that has been exclusively hers to this day. The old machines were restored and produce the gold mesh for Elsa Peretti today.
The mesh is machine-knitted like a stocking, to avoid seams, with solder-filled wire, then heated until the solder flows closing each link. It is then cut to shape by hand and turned into jewellery by Samuel Beizer Associates. A mesh scarf contains about 43,000 links.
The collaboration with Beizer was commemorated in 2001 with the creation of the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry at the F.I.T., endowed in recognition of Peretti's twenty-fifth anniversary with Tiffany & Co. and at her request, in memory of Samuel Beizer, whom she had assisted in developing the curriculum.
The scarf necklace was the end result, but Elsa Peretti's first creation in mesh was a gold bra or halter top (photo). As Peretti herself puts it: 'Inspired by the beautiful atmosphere in Jaipur, I thought about a gold bra; the object was then painstakingly executed there.
Back in New York, the idea progressed with the great help and generosity of Sam Beizer, teacher at F.I.T. The object was shown in a Halston collection; Tiffany was swamped with calls from people dying to get a gold bra.' ('Fifteen of my Fifty with Tiffany & Co', exhibition catalogue, F.I.T, New York 1990). For a silver mesh halter top see 'Bejewelled by Tiffany 1837-1987', exhibition catalogue, The Gilbert Collection, C. Phillips Ed., London 2006, no. 169"....
mesh scarf necklace in 18k yellow gold
mesh halter top in 18k yellow gold mesh scarf earrings in 18k yellow gold