One of the most resonant jewelry designs of the past half century, Elsa Peretti’s (b. 1940) Starfish necklace is perhaps also one of its simplest. A five-pronged ornament crafted — famously — in sterling silver, Peretti’s delicate, spare Starfish was one of several designs that rescued the metal, then considered too “common” for luxury, and launched it into the realm of fine jewelry-making. Along with her Bone Cuff and Diamonds by the Yard collection, the Starfish is among the most enduring of Peretti’s mid-1970s jewelry designs, a revolutionary and versatile array of work that boasted universal appeal, specifically to a younger clientele.
After training as an interior designer in her native Italy and working for an architect there, Peretti began her fashion career as a model in Barcelona, Spain, and then for the prominent New York City talent agency Wilhelmina. In 1969, her first design — a two-inch sterling-silver bud vase on a leather rope to be worn around the neck, inspired by a flower vase she discovered at a flea market — was an immediate success after her friend and fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo included it as part of a line he was developing at the time. As one of Halston’s favorite models, Peretti began designing jewelry for his collections in 1971. A year later, the “Halstonette” had outgrown the catwalk. With her designs garnering their own boutique at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan, Peretti became a New York staple.
In 1974, Peretti joined Tiffany & Co. with a contract to design sterling-silver jewelry. Her debut collection sold out on its first day. Peretti worked quickly, too. She created many of her — and Tiffany’s — best-known designs within a short time span. Many were mass-produced and affordable; some originally retailing for as low as $18. Over the years, the designer produced dozens of collections for Tiffany. In 2014 through 2016, Peretti’s designs accounted for at least eight percent of Tiffany’s worldwide net sales.
Feminine and bold, the Starfish necklace is available from Tiffany & Co. as part of a collection that includes earrings, cufflinks, a brooch and more. Just as she’s done with her scorpion, snake and other designs that owe to inspiration she found on shorelines and elsewhere in the great outdoors, Peretti introduced a truly organic piece of jewelry with the Starfish necklace. It’s a pared-down expression of its aptly named echinoderm and a love letter to the natural world.
Tiffany Elsa Peretti Starfish Necklace
21st Century and Contemporary Pendant Necklaces
18k Gold, Yellow Gold