Elsa Peretti: The Poster Girl Of Sensuous Modern Jewellery Designs

Italian designer/model Elsa Peretti arguably had the most impact on Tiffany & Co.'s design legacy – and her most indelible contribution lives on in the form of the iconic Bone cuff which celebrates its 50th year anniversary this month.

Among the women most commonly associated with Tiffany & Co. (hello Audrey), Italian designer/model Elsa Peretti arguably had the most impact on the jeweller’s design legacy.

She enriched its lexicon with now-classics such as the Bean and Bottle pendants and the lariat-style Diamonds By The Yard necklace.

“I hate that impeccable, perfectly perfect look, all matched and prearranged,” explained Peretti of the Bone cuff’s enduring appeal. The design’s sinuous, organic form has made it commanding statement since its debut in the ’70s, as seen here on Peretti herself as she walked in a runway show for Halston during the era. This October, it makes a star appearance on another powerful female figure: Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984.

Her work was distinguished by sensuous organic forms often regarded as a paragon of modernity. “Style is to be simple, and good line and good form are timeless,” went her philosophy.

Her most indelible contribution? The Bone cuff, inspired by childhood visits to Antonio Gaudi’s Casa Mila in Barcelona as well as the crypt of a 17th-century church in Rome.

The special editions in red, blue and green launched this month as part of the cuff ’s 50th anniversary are nod to Peretti’s love for colour.

“My mother had to send me back time and again with a stolen bone in my little purse,” she said. “Things that are forbidden remain with you forever.”

This year, the sculpture-like piece of jewellery – radical in the way it envelops the contours of the wrist – turns 50. To celebrate, the brand’s launching special editions in eye-catching electric red, green and blue this month.

The Bone cuff’s lack of adornments rendered it an outlier especially during the ’70s when diamonds and yellow gold reigned, but Peretti always had a thing for silver. “My passion was for silver. I loved the old silver jewellery I found in Portobello market. I was brunette so silver suited me. You have to follow your instinct,” she said. And while it was designed to be worn on both the left and right wrists and in a pair, Peretti was particular about the fit. As she puts it herself: “I’ve always been interested in the mechanics and its feel: Every jewellery piece should be captivating and comfortable to wear”.

Cue another one of Peretti’s famous quotes: “Great design doesn’t require an effort to look at. You shouldn’t be pushed to look at an object by a signature, but because it is a pleasure.”

This article first appeared in the August 2020 Home Edition of FEMALE.

This article is originally published on Female Singapore.

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