Elsa Peretti

NR Vol. 13 Growth · Spring Summer 2021
Published · Print Page Unnumbered

Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co

The designer behind some of Tiffany’s most iconic pieces, Elsa Peretti, died at the age of 80 on 18th March 2021. Somewhat unintentionally, this editorial becomes a tribute in her honour.

Born in Italy, Peretti moved to New York in the late 1960s, finding work as a fashion model (a job that gave her financial freedom, having previously been cut off from her eye- wateringly wealthy, but inwards-looking family in Florence). In New York, she became a regular at Studio 54, accompanied by a posse including Warhol, Liza Minelli and the designer, Roy Halston Frowick. It was the through the latter that Peretti’s career blossomed; she designed jewellery for Halston’s eponymous line, and it was him who introduced her to Walter Hoving, CEO of Tiffany & Co. in 1974. By Peretti’s own telling, she was “hired on the spot,” and so began a collaboration that would last until her death. A few years ago, when Peretti threatened to quit the partnership, the company were quick to renegotiate a contract for a further 20 years – which would have lasted until what would have been her 92nd birthday.

With only a few years off celebrating half century of Peretti’s designs for Tiffany, her pieces are icons for a by-gone era. The mesh scarf necklace, for example, which debuted on the runway of Halston’s fall collection in 1975, is evocative of the disco age. But Peretti’s designs remain unequivocally timeless. Peretti reintroduced silver as jewellery to a world in which it was confined to use for accessories and homeware.

Her appointment at Tiffany came as the brand was looking to reach a broader audience – a woman who couldn’t afford to buy herself gold or diamonds, and a woman who wouldn’t necessarily rely on a man to do so for her. The necklace, Diamonds by the Yard (its name coined by Halston), made diamonds affordable by spacing small stones out along the chain. Peretti designed for the modern woman, and was herself, a modern woman. Tall, intimidating (by all accounts) and famously short-fused, Peretti retained the rights to her designs and name. Designs like the Open Heart, Bean and Bone capture the fluidity of form that defined Peretti’s designs.

Her work coalesced organic forms with sophistication and elegance. In the 1980s, the designer escaped the chaos and debauchery of New York to Sant Martí Vell, a small village in Catalan – where, since her early modelling days, she had gradually been buying up the abandoned houses there. She would spent most of the rest of her life there, working with artisans around the region, restoring her own private village, and continuing to design for Tiffany. Like her work for Tiffany, Peretti herself has remained something of a lasting icon. Photos of the designer at work in her New York apartment from the 1970s capture the essence of what makes Peretti’s designs so alluring. The ease with she fuses the natural world with luxury are demonstrative of a designer’s natural instinct for shape, composition and the beautiful things in life.


Photography Teresa Ciocia
Fashion Oana Cilibiu
Make-Up Manuela Renée Balducci
Nails Roberta Rodi  
Casting Isadora Banaudi
Models ADELE aldighieri and VIKA yakimova at Fabbrica Milano and Margot hubac at THE LAB Photo Assistant Jacopo Contarini
Fashion Assistant Mathilde ProiettI
Production Thirteenth
Words Ellie Brown
Discover more on tiffany.com


  1. Corset ALICE PONS Skirt MISSONI Necklace ELSA PERETTI® SCORPION NECKLACE in 18K yellow goldBracelet ELSA PERETTI® FEATHER GREEN JADE CUFF in 18K yellow goldRing ELSA PERETTI® WAVE ring in 18K yellow gold
  2. Top ROBERTO CAVALLI Skirt PAULA CANOVAS DEL VASRing ELSA PERETTI® DIAMOND HOOP RING in 18K yellow gold with diamonds Carat total weight .10Bracelet ELSA PERETTI® FACETED CUFF in 18K yellow goldRing ELSA PERETTI® WAVE RING in 18K yellow gold
  3. Dress KENZO Necklace ELSA PERETTI® COLOR BY THE YARD in 18K yellow gold with emeralds and diamonds
  4. Necklace ELSA PERETTI® MESH SCARF in Sterling Silver with Keshi Pearl
  5. Dress THE ATTICONecklace ELSA PERETTI® MESH SCARF NECKLACE in 18K yellow gold 38 inch
  6. Top SPORTMAX Trousers JIL SANDER Necklace ELSA PERETTI® AEGEAN TOGGLE NECKLACE in 18K yellow gold 20 inch Bracelet ELSA PERETTI® WAVE FIVE ROW BANGLE in 18K yellow gold Ring ELSA PERETTI® WAVE RING in 18K yellow gold
  7. Dress VERSACE Necklace ELSA PERETTI® MESH EARRINGS in 18K yellow gold with round brilliant diamonds Carat total weight .14
  8. Ring ELSA PERETTI® CABOCHON RING  in 18K yellow gold with green jade, 19 mm wideRing ELSA PERETTI® CABOCHON RING in 18K yellow gold with green jade, 15 mm wideRing ELSA PERETTI® WAVE RING in 18K yellow gold

Subscribe to our