Elsa Peretti is one of the 20th century's greatest and most prolific jewellery designers. Joining Tiffany & Co. in 1974, Peretti was responsible for some of Tiffany's most iconic and wearable designs. Her designs are timeless, owing to their structural and organic nature, combining movement and minimalism beautifully. Sadly, Elsa passed away in March of this year. Her lasting legacy of exceptional jewellery design continues, and prices for her pieces as such have soared at auction.
Featuring in Wilson 55's Christmas Fine Jewellery Auction taking place on 2nd December is a collection of beautiful Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co pieces, including some of her most famous and sought-after designs. A must-have for any jewellery lover, these reasonably priced silver pieces signed both by Peretti and Tiffany & Co. make a wonderful addition to any everyday jewellery collection, or a superb last-minute Christmas present for a loved one!
Peretti cited sculptor Henry Moore in her inspiration for her renowned 'Open Heart' collection. In 1990, Elsa Peretti explained the story of the heart pendant:
"I really think that the idea for the best-selling item of my collection sprang from a void in a Moore sculpture, a big one. No-one else saw a heart there. Just me. The shape was there, in metal. What I couldn't work out was how to hang it from the chain. Mr. Kalich, then head of Tiffany jewellery, suggested with his strong German accent: "Why dont we put it through". I was so overjoyed that I gave my first model to his fiancée."
A soft yet streamlined heart collection that is hugely wearable and universally adored by women worldwide! Having featured in countless variations over the years, this classic design truly is a must in any jewellery lovers' collection and arguably Peretti's most popular collection.
An 'Open Heart' bracelet by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., the openwork heart links with trace link chain spacers, signed Elsa Peretti and Tiffany & Co., stamped 925, length 18cm, gross weight 4.4g. £120-180.
An 'Open Heart' necklace by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., the openwork heart pendant suspended from a trace link chain, signed Elsa Peretti and Tiffany & Co., stamped 925, length of pendant 2.3cm, length of chain 42cm, gross weight 6.4g. £100-150.
An Open Heart ring by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., signed Tiffany & Co. and Peretti, stamped sterling, ring size K1/2, gross weight 5.2g. £90-140.
Peretti's Bone collections are amongst her most popular at auction. Her fascination with bones began with her childhood visits to the Capuchin church of Santa Maria dell Concezione in Rome, and witnessing the crypt containing the bones of over 4,000 friars arranged in decorative arrangements. Peretti would bring back fragments of bone, and her mother would scold her for it. It was her fascination with the organic form of bones that led to her world famous bone cuffs and candlesticks.
Image Credit: Tiffany & Co.
An Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. silver cuff bangle, of asymmetric form with raised border, signed Elsa Peretti, stamped Tiffany & Co., inner diameter 6cm, gross weight 52.1g. With maker's box. Sold for £439.
A truly iconic design, Peretti's hugely sought-after 'Bottle' pendant was inspired by the young girls she saw in Portofino in the 1960s who carried gardenias. The idea to create a wearable bottle to keep flowers alive also gleamed inspiration from the vases of antiquity. The elegant and sculptural beauty of the bottle pendant was an evolving design, Elsa created pieces prior to her partnership with Tiffany in a more angular design, and later claimed that her first Tiffany bottle pendant, crafted with the help of her existing Spanish craftsmen was her favourite.
Elsa was initially tasked by Tiffany & Co. to create wearable diamond jewellery for women on a budget. Her solution was the timeless 'Diamonds By The Yard' collection. Inspired by spectacle-set diamond jewellery of the early 20th century, this collection stationed bezel set brilliant cut diamonds at uneven levels on a delicate trace-link chain. It was the fashion designer Halston that came up with the name, and this collection is one of Tiffany's most popular to this day.
The Bean collection, much like the Open Heart collection has been praised for its simplicity and wearability. Representing a seed and therefore the origins of life, the bean pendant was inspired by a pebble she picked up on the beach. Recounting her design process to the New York Times in 1978, Elsa said:
I love nature, but I try to change it a little bit, not copy it. Once I draw the line, it's there. I don't touch it. It becomes my theme. Then I work around it, trying it out in different sizes and different pieces, as a pendant, then a belt buckle, until I've exhausted all its possibilities.
The Mesh collection was inspired by craftsmen in Jaipur. The fluidity of gold, spun into fabric-like creations captivated Elsa who was told it couldn't be done. Along with the help of Prof. Samuel Beizer, Peretti contacted Whiting & Davies, a manufacturer who had been responsible for many early 20th century evening bags, and rescued an old machine as well as an 80 year old former employee. The sample mesh was made into earrings, and the rest is history! The Mesh collection has remained exclusive to Peretti and Tiffany, and taken many forms, from scarf necklaces, halter tops, and even bras!
A 'Zodiac' necklace by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., the oval shape pendant depicting Cancer, suspended from a trace link chain, signed Elsa Peretti and Tiffany & Co., length of pendant 2.7cm, length of chain 71cm, gross weight 14.3g. £90-140.
A silver 'Starfish' necklace by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., the polished starfish pendant suspended from a trace link chain, signed Peretti and Tiffany & Co., stamped 925, length of pendant 1.5cm, length of chain 44cm, gross weight 2g. £100-150.
An 'Infinity Cross' pendant by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., the openwork cross pendant suspended from a trace link chain, signed Peretti and Tiffany & Co., stamped 925, length of pendant 2.4cm, length of chain 41cm, gross weight 2.6g. £100-150.
An Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co 'Square Cushion' necklace, the polished openwork links with toggle clasp, signed Elsa Peretti and Tiffany & Co., stamped 925, length 46.5cm, gross weight 75.9g. £200-300.
Our next Fine Jewellery Sale takes place on Thursday 2nd December, with the closing date for entries on Friday 5th November.
For further information on getting a free auction valuation from our specialist, and to consign into one of our sales, contact us via email@example.com.
Featured image: Credit - People Magazine