Elsa Peretti (American, born Italy, 1940). Belt, 1973. Sterling silver and enamel. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Bequest, 2004 (2004.20).
With few exceptions, Elsa Peretti’s jewelry is inspired by nature or the gesture of the human hand, whether as spontaneous calligraphy or the pressure of the thumb in clay. The sensual lines of bones, shells, a kidney bean, or the drape of metal mesh may be seen in her work. In this instance, the articulated form of a snake is rendered in sterling silver. The snake’s jaw adjusts to clamp down on itself at any point of the wearer’s choosing, leaving the tip of the tail to hang like a pendant.