“My love for bones has nothing macabre about it.”
So said Elsa Peretti, one of Tiffany & Co.’s most celebrated jewellery designers. Macabre or not, her obsession with osseous matter has translated very well into her sculptural creations, ranging from femur-shaped candlesticks to skeletal platters. But it’s the Bone Cuff that remains the most prized piece from her pile of bone-inspired designs.
Peretti introduced it 50 years ago, in the flash and fervour of the Seventies. By contrast, the Bone Cuff was defiantly minimal, defined by its sensual curves that carefully traced its wearer’s wrist — carpal bones and all. Her fixation with the human anatomy was born out of her childhood trips to a crypt in Rome. There, a young Peretti came upon rooms filled with human bones, from which she would pluck a souvenir.
If Peretti’s designs had their roots in death, you certainly couldn’t tell by the people who embraced them. In fact, her Tiffany & Co. Bone Cuff was worn by the women that brought life to the party at the Studio 54 nightclub; stylish regulars like Grace Jones, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli and Sophia Loren were all fans of the accessory.
“I have always been interested in the mechanics and its feel: every jewelry piece should be captivating and comfortable to wear,” said Peretti. The Bone Cuff checked both boxes, which is why its appeal has endured past the era of decadence — and long after Studio 54 was shuttered — and into the 21st century. Today, the Cuff often adorns the stars of the red carpet set, such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and Margot Robbie.
This year, Tiffany & Co. has revived the Bone Cuff for a special edition to mark its semicentennial. It now comes in electric colours like red, blue and green that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the disco where the Cuff first found its fame.
But even more exciting are the limited-edition designs that the American jewellery juggernaut is debuting this month: Bone Cuffs in silver and gold, embedded with carved gems like black jade, green jade and turquoise. The new styles, inscribed with the words “special edition”, combine two of Peretti’s favourite things: bones and gemstones.
Regardless of whether you’re into either of those things, there are still plenty of ways to appreciate the beauty of the Bone Cuff. Museums see Peretti’s carefully sculpted piece as art; others value it for its place in a bygone era. As for the designer herself, it’s the simple things that make the Bone Cuff so special: “For me, good line and good form are timeless.”
The Elsa Peretti Bone Cuff is now available at Tiffany & Co. Takashimaya and on Tiffany & Co’s website.
Header photo credit: Tiffany & Co.