How Elsa Peretti Reintroduced Tiffany & Co. to Silver
A brief history of the iconic collaboration between legendary designer Elsa Peretti and Tiffany & Co., inspired by pieces offered in our upcoming Estate Jewelry, Sterling Silver, & Rare Coins auction on May 12.
Born May of 1940 into wealth and status in Florence, Italy, Elsa Perretti was the youngest daughter of an oil magnate. In her youth, she was passionate about the arts and notably inspired by ancient columns in Rome, which fueled a fascination with architecture and inspired her study in the field along with interior design.

Not one to be tamed, Peretti gave up the family fortune in exchange for personal freedom and moved to New York City to pursue a career in modeling. Not long after her arrival in New York, Peretti became a muse to both fashion designer Halston, and to fashion photographer Helmut Newton - in turn becoming the subject of one of the latter’s most recognizable photographs of all time, “Elsa Peretti as a Bunny, New York.”
While modeling full time, Peretti still found time to focus on design and began creating jewelry. Her first piece, a silver bud vase hanging from a piece of leather cord, sparked interest when she wore it on the runway in a Halston show. It would be Newton, however, who introduced Peretti to Tiffany & Co., and famously brokered the iconic deal between the established jewelry brand and the young tastemaker in 15 minutes flat.
At the time of the deal, Tiffany & Co. had not offered sterling silver jewelry since the 1930s. When her first collection launched, Peretti and her sleek designs for the sophisticated working woman attracted lines around the block at every Tiffany & Co. storefront in the country. What followed was nothing short of a series of historic chapters in the brand’s story. The “Open Heart” design became the best selling Tiffany & Co. design of all time and is said to be inspired by negative spaces in Henry Moore sculptures. Her iconic pieces made Tiffany & Co. sterling silver the luxury commodity we all associate with the brand today.
Elsa Peretti renegotiated her contract with Tiffany & Co. in 2012 to the tune of $47 million dollars, she became the most successful jewelry designer - male or female - ever.

The below selection of Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. pieces, including her Open Heart design, will be offered in our upcoming Estate Jewelry, Sterling Silver, and Rare Coins auction on May 12th.