Elsa Peretti

Elsa Peretti is a jewelry designer and philanthropist as well as a former fashion model. Her jewelry and design pieces for Tiffany & Co., are included in the 20th century collection of the British Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is largely responsible for the restoration of the village of Sant Martí Vell in Catalonia, Spain. Through her foundations, she supports a wide variety of cultural, social, and artistic causes.

Elsa Peretti
BornMay 1, 1940 (age 78)
EducationVolpicelli School, Rome, Italy
OccupationJewelry designer, philanthropist, former fashion model

Early life

Peretti was born in Florence, Italy on May 1, 1940, as the youngest daughter of Ferdinando Peretti (1896–1977) and Maria Luisa Pighini. Ferdinando Peretti founded Anonima Petroli Italiana (API), a large Italian oil company, in 1933.[1] She was estranged from her conservative family for much of her life.[2]

Elsa Peretti was educated in Rome and Switzerland. She initially made her living teaching Italian and working as a ski instructor in the German speaking Swiss mountain village of Gstaad. In 1963, she moved to Milan, Italy to pursue a degree in interior design and to work for the architect Dado Torrigiani.[3]



In 1964, Peretti became a fashion model, working in Barcelona, Spain. In 1968 she moved to New York City on the advice of Wilhelmina Modeling Agency. During the 1970s Peretti was a frequent regular of Studio 54, along with designer Roy Halston Frowick, Andy Warhol and Liza Minnelli.[1] According to Halston, "Elsa had style: she made the dress she was modeling her own."[1] Helmut Newton's photograph ‘Elsa Peretti in Bunny Costume’ is considered a lasting image of the 1970s.[4]

Jewelry design

In 1969, Peretti began creating new jewelry styles for a handful of fashion designers in Manhattan. Her first design was a two-inch bud vase made of sterling-silver, worn on a leather thong, that was inspired by a find at a flea market. Worn by one of Giorgio di Sant' Angelo's models, it was a hit. By 1971, she was designing jewelry for Halston. She continued to use silver, which went from being "common" to being a popular choice for Liza Minnelli and others. [1] Pieces like Bone Cuff are seen as incorporating organic forms with appreciation of the human body, and as bridging a gap between costume and serious jewelry.[5]

Elsa peretti per tiffany & co., terrina con coperchio e vassoio, argento sterling, 1984
Elsa Peretti, bowl with lid and tray, sterling silver, for Tiffany & Co., 1984

By the time Peretti joined Tiffany & Co. as an independent designer, she had received the 1971 Coty Award,[6][7] and had her first appearance in Vogue magazine. In 1972 Bloomingdale's, one of New York's landmark shopping stores, opened a dedicated Peretti boutique. In 1974, Peretti signed a contract with Tiffany & Co to design silver jewelry[5] and by 1979, she was the firm's leading designer.[5] Her silver pieces were seen as "fun" and attracted a younger clientele. Peretti also designed silverware for Tiffany, but only after she had established a solid following with her jewelry.[5]

Peretti has designed over thirty collections for Tiffany. In the process, she has traveled to Japan, China, and Europe, drawing on the work of craftsmen there in the creation of classic collections such as Bean, Open Heart, Mesh, Bone, and Zodiac. In addition to sterling silver, part of her signature is the use of materials such as jade, lacquer, and rattan.[8] In 2012,Tiffany and Peretti extended their partnership for another 20 years. [9] In 2015, her trademarked Elsa Peretti designs represented eight percent of Tiffany's net sales.[8] Her works have been described as "revolutionary", "timeless, distinct and modern".[2]

Catalonia, Spain

In 1968, Peretti bought a house in the largely decrepit village of Sant Martí Vell in Catalonia, Spain. Over the next ten years she had the house restored, often living in rough conditions during the process. By the 1980s, the mustard-yellow house was her refuge and her preferred home.[5][10] Pieces such as her scorpion necklace, now in the British Museum, were inspired by the flora and fauna of Sant Martí Vell.[11]

Since then Peretti has worked to restore parts of the surrounding village,[12] purchasing additional buildings and having them renovated.[2] As of 2017, about half the village had been rebuilt.[13] Her projects have included the renovation of the interior of Església de Sant Martí Vell, the parochial church of Sant Martí Vell in 2012-2013. The site has a long history, encompassing a Roman settlement in the second century AD, a medieval enclosure, a Romanic Temple in the 11th–12th century and the construction of a late Gothic style edifice in the late 1500s. The work done has included the excavation of archaeological remains dating to a Roman settlement and the refinishing of a sepulchral tomb, as well as the restoration of existing elements and the provision of new ones. [14] Peretti has also supported the management of the sixteenth-century historical documents of the town, the conservation of the photographic archive of Oriol Maspons and the conservation of the Roman city of Empúries.[15]

Peretti has established a working vineyard in Sant Martí, planting Ca l’Elsa in 2004 and Can Nobas in 2007. The winery itself was completed in 2008, and fine wines are marketed under the Eccocivi label, meaning "Here we are to make wine."[13]

Peretti has also provided a great deal of support to cultural, scientific, humanitarian and educational initiatives and for human rights. Much of this work has been supported through her foundations (see below). She has promoted the visual arts and fostered the consolidation, protection and dissemination of the historical, artistic, cultural, architectural and craft heritage of Catalonia. She has encouraged people such as guitarist Michael Laucke and painter-sculptor Robert Llimós to make use of San Marti Vell.[16]

In 2013, Peretti was the first non-Catalan person to be awarded the National Culture Award by the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CoNCA).[15]


Elsa Paretti was reconciled with her father shortly before his death in 1977, after he read an article about her and her work in Newsweek.[17][18] After a four-year court and legal battle with her sister Mila and Mila's husband Aldo Brachetti Peretti, Elsa Peretti received nearly half of her father's considerable fortune.[1]

In 2000, she created a charity in honor of her father with those assets, called the Nando Peretti Foundation (NPF).[19] The foundation is reported to have given approximately 42 million euros to 852 projects world-wide over 15 years.[20] As of 2015, it was renamed the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation (NaEPF).[19]

Initially the foundation had a dual focus on the environment and wildlife conservation, and on humanitarian programs, particular those that targeted poverty. Over time, the scope of the foundation's work has expanded to support a broad range of projects for "promotion of human and civil rights, with a special emphasis on the right to education, children's rights, and women's rights and dignity."[19] The NPF solicits proposals internationally, and has supported requests from around the world. These include initiatives on behalf of unrepresented people and oppressed minorities, to defend their right to exist and preserve their culture. The NPF supports medical and scientific research projects to promote physical and mental health, as well as specific interventions including the building of hospitals and other sanitary facilities. It has funded public awareness campaigns for wildlife conservation and environmental protection. It also promotes culture and the arts.[19][21]



  • American Fashion Critics Coty award, 1971;
  • President's Fellow award, Rhode Island School of Design, 1981;
  • The Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College, 1982;
  • Fashion Group "Night of the Stars" award, 1986;
  • Cultured Pearl Industry award, 1987;
  • Council of Fashion Designers of America's Accessories Designer of the Year, 1996.
  • Elsa Peretti Professorship In Jewelry Design: In 2001, Tiffany & Co. established the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its successful and rewarding collaboration with Elsa Peretti, Tiffany & Co. created a perpetual fund for faculty salary support in the Jewelry Design Department. At Ms. Peretti’s request, the endowment is established in honor of her long friendship and professional association with Samuel Beizer, founding chairman of FIT’s Jewelry Design Department.[22]
  • 2013 The National Prize of Culture by the Catalan Government, which is awarded annually to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves for their outstanding contribution in their respective cultural areas.[23]
  • 2015: Guardó JORGC (Col·legi Oficial de Joiers, d'Orfebres, de Rellotgers i de Gemmòlegs de Catalunya) en reconeixement a la trajectòria global[24]


Permanent Collections

  • British Museum: In 2009 the British Museum acquired 30 of Peretti's creations for its 20th century collection. The museum describes Peretti's capacity to produce objects, which come from different parts of the world as unique, noting that they combine "superb craftsmanship and symbolic meaning in a modern age".[28] The display is called "Continuity and Change", highlighting the museum's wish to show cross-cultural influences and techniques. It clearly demonstrates that the collaboration between Peretti, her artisans and Tiffany is an example of excellence in contemporary design based on an international cooperation.
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana[29]
  • Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts[30]
  • Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas[31]


  • Fifteen of My Fifty with Tiffany, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 1990;
  • Retrospective, Tiffany's stores worldwide, 2001
  • British Museum: display in Room 2 of Peretti-designed jewellery, accessories and tableware from Tiffany & Co., 2009

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e Reginato, James (July 16, 2014). "Elsa Peretti's Great Escape". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Muller, Jolain. "The Lasting Legacy of Elsa Peretti". Prima Darling. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  3. ^ Taylor, Angela (February 8, 1974). "Elsa Peretti: Zany and Talented". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Helmut Newton Elsa Peretti in Bunny Costume Limited Edition Print By Helmut Newton". ongallery.com.
  5. ^ a b c d e Kirkham, Pat, ed. (2000). Women designers in the USA, 1900-2000 : diversity and difference : Jacqueline M. Atkins et al. New York: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts. pp. 211–212, 243. ISBN 0300093314. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Winners of Coty Awards". The New York Times. June 23, 1971. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  7. ^ "St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 36". Newspapers.com. 1972-04-18. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  8. ^ a b Robinson, Whitney (August 11, 2016). "How Elsa Peretti Became An Iconic 20th Century Designer". Town and Country. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  9. ^ DeMarco, Anthony (January 2, 2013). "Tiffany and Elsa Peretti Extend Partnership For 20 Years". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  10. ^ "Design Icon Elsa Peretti". Interiors. July 27, 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Collection online necklace". British Museum. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  12. ^ Brozan, Nadine (September 29, 1994). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  13. ^ a b "The "je ne sais quoi" of Eccoci, the Catalonian wine of Tiffany designer Elsa Peretti". The Grape Traveler. 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  14. ^ Pignatelli, Benedetta (December 2017). "Elsa Peretti Divine Design". Interiors. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  15. ^ a b "CoNCA Consell Nacional de la Cultura i les Arts". www.conca.cat. Archived from the original on January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  16. ^ Goulet, Paul-Henri (May 18, 1991). "Michael Laucke". Journal de Montreal. En été, Laucke étudie souvent, et prépare son nouveau répertoire dans le calme de la petite village de San Martivell, près de Barcelone … grâce à la généreuse hospitalité de son amie Elsa Peretti. ("In the summer, Laucke often studies and prepares new repertoire in the calm of the small town of San Marti Vell, near Barcelona ...thanks to the generous hospitality of his friend Elsa Peretti." (English translation))
  17. ^ "Jewelry's New Dazzle". Newsweek. 4 April 1977.
  18. ^ "pendant / necklace / chain". The British Museum. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d "About the Foundation". The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation". Triple Funds. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  21. ^ "The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation". Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO). Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  22. ^ "Endowed Funds | Fashion Institute of Technology". www.fitnyc.edu. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  23. ^ "CoNCA Consell Nacional de la Cultura i les Arts". www.conca.cat. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  24. ^ "Guardons jorgc 2015 – jorgc". www.jorgc.org. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  25. ^ "le Onorificenze – Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana". www.quirinale.it. Archived from the original on January 5, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  26. ^ "Order of Malta". www.orderofmalta.int. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  27. ^ "circolosanpietro.org – Home". www.circolosanpietro.org. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  28. ^ "British Museum – Peretti". www.britishmuseum.org. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  29. ^ "Indianapolis Museum of Art Collection Search". collection.imamuseum.org. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  30. ^ "Collections Search". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  31. ^ "Elsa Peretti, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston".

External links

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Frank E. Peretti (born 1951), American novelist

Giovanni Pietro Perti or Peretti (1648–1714), Italian Baroque sculptor and architect

Hugo Peretti (1916–1986), American songwriter and record producer

Jacques Peretti (born 1967), investigative reporter, broadcaster and filmmaker based in London

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Lucia Peretti (born 1990), Italian short-track speed-skater

Marianne Peretti (born 1927), Franco-Brazilian artist

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Steven Peretti (born 1956) American author,cartoonist

Ugo Brachetti Peretti (born 1965), Italian oil executive

Vanessa Peretti (born 1986), model and Miss Venezuela International 2006

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