When the Italian jewellery designer Elsa Peretti launched her bone cuff with Tiffany & Co. 50 years ago, it gave the world a stunning glimpse of the ergonomic sensuality she was capable of, one that was to inform all of her subsequent jewellery designs. The tactile and sculptural form of the cuff was inspired by the designer’s visits as a young child to the crypt of a 17th-century Capuchin church in Rome. Peretti would sometimes secretly take home the bones she found in secret. That, and the inspiration she gleaned from Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí’s Casa Milà, a residential modernist building in Barcelona, lent the bone cuff a slightly macabre, but nonetheless beautiful air.
Elsa Peretti’s original rendering of the bone cuff, as displayed on its literal inspiration.
With its seamless contours, the bone cuff effortlessly adorns the wrist of the wearer. The fact that it was designed specifically for either the right or left wrist shows the attention to detail that makes Peretti’s design both of its time, and an instant classic. “I have always been interested in the mechanics and its feel — every jewellery piece should be captivating and comfortable to wear,” says Peretti.
An archival moodboard showing sketches and inspirations for Elsa Peretti’s bone cuff.
While the cuff was initially released in precious metals like 18k yellow gold and silver, the house has released various versions over the years, wrought in new materials like ruthenium over copper and in different sizes. This year, new iterations include the cuffs in bright pops of green, blue and red. A special edit with Dover Street Market stores around the world includes a sterling silver cuff with a snowflake obsidian stone. Made from grey-black volcanic glass and speckled with white snowflake-shaped inclusions, the stone has been hand-carved into a voluptuous teardrop, a symbol of pure emotion that is one of the designer’s favourite organic shapes.
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