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In a statement, Tiffany & Co. said Elsa Peretti "revolutionized the world of design and forever changed the way women wore jewelry"

By Katie Campione
March 19, 2021 10:44 PM
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Elsa Peretti
Credit: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images.

Famed Italian jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who created timeless collaborations with Tiffany & Co. for decades, has died. She was 80.

Peretti died on Thursday at her home in Spain, the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation announced in a statement shared on social media on Friday.

"A woman of extraordinary generosity, philanthropist and world famous designer," the statement read. "A free, strong, courageous visionary. Her example will be remembered forever."

Born and raised in Italy, Peretti began her career as a model during the 1960s after moving to Barcelona, a move that prompted her family to cut her off financially, according to an August profile by the Wall Street Journal Magazine.

There in Spain, she was embraced by an artistic community that included Salvador Dalí.

She began creating jewelry to accessorize her sartorial looks following another move to New York City, where she modeled for designers Halston and Giorgio di Sant'Angelo.

Halston, who became a close friend of Peretti's, introduced her to executives at Tiffany & Co. — where she would go on to design exclusively for most of her career, according to the Associated Press.

On Friday, Tiffany & Co. shared a statement in the wake of the designer's death, writing that the company is "deeply saddened" by the news.

"A masterful artisan, #ElsaPeretti revolutionized the world of design and forever changed the way women wore jewelry. Elsa's legacy will remain a constant inspiration for generations to come," the statement read.

"Our hearts go out to her family, friends and the artisans and craftspeople who realized her fantasies," the brand said in a follow-up tweet. "She will be deeply missed by all of us at Tiffany & Co."

Since joining Tiffany in 1974, Peretti created a number of iconic pieces for the luxury jewelry retailer, many of which were inspired by bone fragments and other natural elements.

Peretti was also known for her desire to make sure her designs were accessible at lower price points. Her passion prompted her to create her Diamonds by the Yard collection for Tiffany & Co., a line that includes pieces ranging from $325 to $75,000. 

Elsa Peretti
Credit: PL Gould/Images/Getty Images

"You need to be able to go out on the street with your jewelry," she told WSJ Magazine in August. "Women can't go around wearing $1 million."

Over time, her pieces would come to account for about 10 percent of the company's sales. She was paid a one-time fee of $47 million for her continued collaboration in 2012, according to Vogue.

In her obituary by fashion magazine, Peretti is described as "arguably the most successful female ever to work in the jewelry field" and her work is "carved, pure—irresistibly touchable—it has been called jewelry as sculpture, sculpture as jewelry, and the most sensuous jewelry in the world."