Hubert Burda Media

An Inside Look at Bulgari’s 2016 High Jewellery Collection

The dramatic colour palette of Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi was the site for a recent showcase of Bulgari High Jewellery pieces

With its audacious, larger-than-life architectural scale – set in a lush beachside garden with purple-walled courtyards, reflection pools and pebble-stoned waterfalls – the resort creation of Thai architect Lek Bunnag made a perfect choice for the first Bulgari High Jewellery event of this size in Thailand.

Top clients and media jetted in from all over the region to marvel at “The Magnificent Inspirations”, an ode to Italian glamour and the elegance of Rome.

For its 2016 High Jewellery collection, Bulgari savours and expresses its characteristic personality with three facets of inspiration: Italian Extravaganza, Mediterranean Eden, and Roman Heritage.

Over 150 High Jewellery pieces and high-end watches sparkled and dazzled alongside the Andaman Sea, with a series of glamorous events conceived to offer guests a truly memorable experience.

“Our High Jewellery clients don’t want to acquire only gemstones,” says Giampaolo Della Croce, Bulgari’s High Jewellery senior director. “At Bulgari, acquiring a jewellery piece is linked to the experience – the environment, the story, meeting with Lucia [Silvestri, jewellery creative director] and I for a discussion about the gemstones used, and so on. Acquiring a piece of High Jewellery is really about the overall experience.”

While Giampaolo’s role requires him to manage the creation, distribution and sale of one-of-a-kind jewels and Lady jewellery watches, Lucia’s specialty is scouring the globe for extraordinary stones and her innate creative flair.

The duo admits that their working relationship is somewhat like being married – “Lucia and I feel like the mother and father of those beautiful babies (High Jewellery pieces),” Giampaolo laughs.

Lucia concurs. “We would spend at least a year to work on a collection, and collecting the actual stones could take up to three years.

There’s a lot of emotional attachment and I am a little sad to see pieces go... But I like to see a woman who wears coloured stones for the first time – see her doing so confidently, and if it makes her happy, I am happy, too.”

As if in one voice they admit to the importance of bringing out a new High Jewellery collection every year; on the one hand, Lucia explains, her challenge is to be innovative and creative every year “with an eye on the past”, while Giampaolo reiterates the importance of also preserving the craft of jewellery-making.

He elaborates: “Our one-of-a-kind ‘babies’ are crafted in a workshop in Rome with 28 artisans. To keep the expertise of Italian savoir-faire alive, this little workshop in Rome is crucual. Only the most talented of all our artisans are based there, and they need to have at least 20-25 years of experience. They are truly masters.”

The latest collection, according to Lucia, has a strong flavour from the ‘70s – one of her favourite periods. 

“I like this period because of the use of very daring colours, and I wanted to introduce those colours again with gemstones and semi-precious stones because I like the contrast, to do something different... In terms of craftmanship though, the pieces are much more wearable, much lighter now, very delicate. In the past – especially in the ‘70s and ‘80s – they were beautiful too but quite bold.”

And so, back to the beautiful setting in Krabi, where guests enjoyed a modern day showcase with the inspirations of Italian Extravaganza, Mediterranean Eden, and Roman Heritage – each theme richly infused with heritage and charisma, but innovative and distinctively contemporary all the same