Founded in 1884, Bulgari is one of the best known and most prolific innovators among the world’s great jewellery houses. Founder Sotirio Bulgari was born in Greece. But he built his company in Rome, where he was famed for his sharp eye for exquisite coloured gemstones and unique design ideas. Rooted in the passionate spirit of its founder, and the heritage of the brand, the house today is led by Creative Director Lucia Silvestri. In his role as High Jewellery Senior Director, Giampaolo Della Croce works closely with Silvestri. During his three decades with the company, he has built strong and enduring relationships with the brand’s clients worldwide, as Prestige discovered in an intriguing interview.
How would you introduce the Bulgari brand to the new generation?
First of all, it is important to share the concept of the jewellery collections in Bulgari. Our creative temple is based on three columns; the Mediterranean Eden which takes inspirations from the world of nature, the Roman Heritage which is inspired by the city of Rome’s art and architecture, and the Italian extravaganza, which is inspired by the exuberant lifestyle of the Italians. A good example of the Italian Extravaganza theme is explored in the new high jewellery collection, Festa, which highlights the Italian’s love for joyful celebrations.
Is there a conscious effort by Bulgari to reach out to a younger market?
Yes, absolutely. As you know, we have very loyal clients all over the world and a big part of our high-end
jewellery is devoted to them. Actually, when Lucia and I think of a new collection, we already have certain faces of our clients in our mind … we know which jewellery a particular client will like and which ones suit them. With the younger generation, we have to work with a profile rather than a particular name or face in our mind. We learned that we have to be more contemporary and daring to reach out to them. Our younger clientele wants to be able to show off their discerning taste when it comes to collectable jewels.They want jewellery pieces that are wearable and not merely investments to be kept in a safety box.
Is there a difference in terms of taste, when it comes to jewellery in Asia compared to Europe?
Generally speaking, yes. Simply because, how good a piece of jewellery looks on someone is influenced by the shape of the person, and also by the colour of the skin, eyes and hair. Generally speaking, Asian women are more petite compared to the European. Long sautoirs that work well on European statures have to be shortened for Asian. Big earrings are also less popular in Asia. Here, the ladies still like matching sets of jewellery, to be worn together. While in Europe, the ladies like bold, statement pieces to be worn on their own.
How important is the Asian market for you? Is there a special marketing strategy that Bulgari uses for Asia?
The Asian market is crucial because even when we think about the European market and the American market, quite a big percentage of our high-end jewellery customers is from Asia. These Asian clients are active globetrotters who do their shopping when they are on holidays abroad. So we want to be stronger in the Asian market. But not only in Asia, but for our Asian customers who travel all over the world. What we like to do regularly is hold exclusive previews for them to introduce our collections.
Looking at the state of the global economy, what are the challenges that face the high-jewellery business?
While the retail industry can be affected by the economic climate, high jewellery will not stop being a good investment. For big investors, they have to diversify their money. Of course, business is the main investment and then comes real estate. Then there are jewels before other collectables, such as contemporary art. It’s because jewels have intrinsic value. When you go for a huge emerald, an impressive blue sapphire or a Burmese ruby, your money is more likely to grow.
What are the important qualities to look for when investing in jewellery?
The qualities of the gemstones and good craftsmanship. It’s important to have the official certification and documents that give the specifications and state the rarity of the gemstones. Of course, the craftsmanship of the jewellery piece is crucial. You can have the most exquisite gemstone, but if it is not set right it will end up being stored in a safe rather than being worn.