Today's WWD is floating a rumor that Elsa Peretti, a mainstay of Tiffany & Co.'s stable of designers, is considering leaving the famous jeweler which has manufactured and sold her work exclusively since 1974. This information comes after SEC filings revealed that Tiffany has offered to purchase the designer's intellectual property outright for an undisclosed sum. Peretti reportedly responded by suggesting that she was considering "retiring" their longtime licensing agreement and severing her relationship with the retailer.
If Peretti left exited the jeweler, Tiffany would left with Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger who died in 1987 and Frank Gehry who is primarily an architect in its portfolio of proprietary branded jewelry. The last high profile split from Tiffany was Angela Cummings' departure in 1984. She launched her own fine jewelry company with in in-store shop at Bergdorf Goodman, but closed her business in 2003.
If Peretti did split with Tiffany, the separation would be a year and a half process during which rights to manufacture and sell the designs would transfer back to the designer in stages. At that point she would have the option to make her own arrangements for selling products under her own name. Should she choose to do so, there is likely no shortage of retailers who would be ready to offer Peretti's sleek, minimal and timeless designs under their own roofs. Her work ranges from relatively inexpensive silver jewelry to pieces in precious metals and gemstones as well as accessories and home furnishings, suggesting a broad market for an independent Elsa Peretti brand. The question implied by WWD's article is whether or not the 72 year old designer is ready to end what has always seemed like a mutually beneficial 36-year relationship with Tiffany in favor of striking out on her own. The classic, iconic qualities of many of her most famous designs (Diamonds by the Yard, Alphabet, the signature Open Heart, the Bone Cuff, etc.) indicate that her archive of designs will continue to have a commercial appeal long after she might choose to retire, and there would also be opportunities to expand her brand into other design categories like furniture or other home furnishings not carried by Tiffany. Is this her plan, or if it is simply a negotiating tactic to adjust her current agreement with Tiffany? The result could be a huge opportunity not only for Peretti but for any number of retailers who might be eager to be in the Peretti business.