Bulgari, the master of coloured gemstones and voluptuous proportions, calls its new high jewellery collection The Magnificent Inspirations, symbolic of its deep and lifelong love for Italy. Divided into three distinct chapters — Italian Extravaganza, Mediterranean Eden and Roman Heritage — this new collection sparkles with the Maison’s signature style of multihued gemstone combinations, geometrical shapes, daring volumes, sensuality and suppleness, all of which reflect the colours, light, boldness and romanticism of its beloved homeland.
Although most of the jewellery are designed in majestic proportions, these statement pieces are also extremely wearable and sensual on the skin. Bulgari’s Jewellery Creative Director Lucia Silvestri deliberately designed her creations to be highly tactile so that they would be able to engage all five senses at once, encouraging the Bulgari woman to play with her jewels and to listen to the sound they make as the large gemstones knock against each other.
Silvestri speaks of her designs as if they were her children. “Since I buy the gems and follow the piece from the beginning to the end, I consider them to be my babies,” she notes.
Picking up a piece, she says: “It’s not really a sound that they make; instead, it’s music.” Each time she discusses a specific jewellery, she asks: “Did you touch it? It’s much better when you see it around your neck.” It’s important to her that one feels and tries on the jewels. When they are statically displayed in their vitrines, certain details — like how the thinly sliced emeralds on one stunning necklace have the ability to take on the colour of the wearer’s skin — are lost.
As the Italian lifestyle is always presented as joyful, expressive and charismatic, Italian Extravaganza is all about exuberance, ostentation and beauty, mirroring Italy’s talent in attracting visitors from all around the world through its excellence in art, design, architecture, fashion, its charming natural landscapes and exquisite women. This is reflected in its sophisticated and extremely feminine designs that celebrate the spirit of Rome. This being Silvestri’s favourite chapter, she remarks: “It’s something I feel is in my style. It’s something we have in our DNA, maybe because we are Italian and the brand is so extravagant in some ways so I feel very close to it.”
Subtly referencing the peacock — sacred animals imported into Rome from India and emblems of rebirth and regeneration — the Divas’ Dream “Gioco e Vanità” necklace is inspired by the graceful curves of the ancient mosaics of the imperial Baths of Diocletian in Rome, when the most beautiful women of the Roman Empire made a lifestyle out of wellness through the baths practice. You can just about make out a tiny peacock head on one side. Like the brilliant colours of the majestic bird’s fanned tail, the piece combines blue sapphires, emeralds, and brilliant-cut and pavé diamonds, which reverberate with Roman history and the beauty of Italy.
An entire Bulgari creation is often originally inspired by the uniqueness of rare stones. Exalting the most precious and magnificent gems, it was inspired by the idea of a jewel of prestige fit for a princess with its Gemme Principesche platinum necklace. It features robust pavé diamond links accompanying seven emeralds (56.40ct) that required three years to assemble from across the globe. Another outstanding example is the Extravaganza necklace in pink gold with a powerful design composed of 12 giant sassi-cut amethysts (344.25ct), seven South Sea cultured pearls, 19 round-shaped emerald beads (35.78ct), eight round-shaped, cabochon-cut rubellites and brilliant-cut diamonds, making for a true conversation piece. Silvestri discloses: “I always say my jewels are very international because the pearls come from the South Sea, amethysts from Bolivia, emeralds from Zambia, jade is sourced from Hong Kong, stones are cut in Jaipur and craftsmanship is from Italy.” Rife with colour, this particular piece recalls the brand’s history during the 1950s, when it debuted its coloured gems revolution.
In the Mediterranean Eden line, Bulgari turns to nature — from delicate flowers to dangerous snakes — which has always been a regular source of inspiration. Like the Garden of Eden, the brand’s Mediterranean Eden designs are full of life, conveying nature’s energy, movement and iridescence. It’s no surprise Bulgari has chosen this environment to let the Serpenti, arguably its most precious icon, flourish. As a symbol of wisdom, vitality and the cycle of life that’s able to hypnotise its prey, the serpent has not only enchanted Cleopatra, but also the Bulgari woman, transforming her into a modern-day queen of the Nile when the Serpenti necklace encircles her neck.
“The Serpenti is our iconic collection and symbol, but this year we wanted to change something, so we decided to split it into two parts: The head and the body,” says Silvestri. “This way, we end up reaching out to two kinds of women: A woman who likes the Serpenti can buy the designs that focus on the head; and a woman who doesn’t like it too much but likes the geometry can buy the pieces that highlight the body. Expressing the Serpenti in two different ways was what we wanted to achieve.” The Serpenti Seduttori necklace in white gold with baguette-cut and pavé diamonds in a hexagonal modular motif, recalling snake scales, shows off a sizeable oval-shaped, brilliant-cut blue sapphire crowning its head and two pear-shaped rubies showing off the magnetic power of its eyes. Captivating and aggressive, the use of 12 marquise-shaped, brilliant-cut diamonds, and pear- and marquise-shaped emeralds on another Serpenti necklace in platinum makes it look like it has spikes on its head and hard, thick reptilian scales, but it’s crafted to be soft to the touch and not rigid.
For women mesmerised by the serpent but wishing for something a little subtler, Bulgari proposes the Serpenti Inspirations sautoir in white gold, which takes up again the hexagonal pattern that echoes the brand’s vintage 1970s designs. Eighty-eight fancy-shaped, cabochon-cut sapphires play with pavé diamonds in a display of different colours and textures, bringing three-dimensionality and volume to a seemingly flat piece. For a more traditional expression, where the necklace takes the form of an entire snake’s body, there’s the Serpenti necklace with two pear-shaped, brilliant-cut diamonds and pavé diamonds with South American snakewood used for the first time in the brand’s history, perfectly matching the pink gold structure.
In its Roman Heritage chapter, Bulgari shares the magnificent spirit, heritage and beauty of the Eternal City with the world. The cabochon-cut that appears regularly in its designs mirrors ancient domes; orange-hued gemstones recall the light of the sun; and age-old coins exalt historic dynasties. Rome’s unique architecture gave birth to the geometrical design of the Parentesi (Italian for “parentheses”), the interlocking metal components of the brand’s modular jewels, inspired by the travertine junctions of the city’s pavements. Timelessly elegant, it instantly became a Bulgari staple and one of the most copied designs, appealing to modern women looking for flexible jewellery that can be worn from day to night.
This symbolic design is reinterpreted in this collection on a new Parentesi necklace with links that are softer and more wearable than the original from the 1980s. In a more curvaceous version, the ultra-feminine Parentesi Hamata necklace in white gold paved with diamonds (31.14ct) features a cuirass pattern, taking after the shape of an armour. However, instead of finding such a motif on a Roman knight, it is worn by a heroine of contemporary times.
Drawing from Roman history and the brand’s heritage, a 1970s-style Monete chain necklace in pink gold highlights a second-century bronze coin with green patina surrounded by eight round emerald beads, eight fancy-cut cabochon rubies and pavé diamonds. “It’s something very strong, but you can wear it with jeans and a white silk blouse too — it’s very chic,” states Silvestri. “I’d like to think our clients wear these jewels not only for the red carpet, but also for cocktails or gala dinners, things that are not really formal.” She concludes with the greatest challenges she faced with the collection: “I grew up with the company, so playing with gems is something that comes very naturally. However, coming up with a new idea and offering new combination of colours or signs is something more difficult. Our goal is to be much more creative than other jewellery houses.”