The Bulgari style is a balanced mix of classicism and modernity in a continuous search for innovative design and materials. It’s no wonder then that Hollywood has always been enchanted by Bulgari designs
Introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari,” Richard Burton once said. “The only word Liz knows in Italian is Bulgari.” An inimitable model of beauty and talent and one of the best-loved film stars of the 20th century, Elizabeth Taylor was a great connoisseur and collector of Bulgari’s creations of fine jewellery ever since the 1960s, becoming, at the same time, one of their most incisive sources of inspiration. Bulgari creations also accompanied the actress’ passionate love-affair with Richard Burton, born in Rome, on the set of Cleopatra, and continued down the years to come at the Bulgari shop on Via Condotti. As a token of their engagement, Burton gave her a brooch with a magnificent emerald and diamonds that the actress also wore on their wedding day.
Bulgari jewellery is all about exquisitely crafted jewels created on the basis of drawings especially developed for gemstones of extraordinary quality. They are one-of-a-kind ornaments, destined to represent the quintessence of Bulgari design, distinguished by an unmistakable taste for beauty, an inimitable sense of volume and a commitment to the highest quality materials. The collection currently includes more than 1,200 pieces, displayed on rotation, at all of the most important Bulgari stores worldwide.
The essential element for a piece of high jewellery is the stone, or set of stones, around which it is composed. The cut, carat and colour of the gems are the starting point of the creative process for a piece of glamorous jewellery, and the design of the jewel focuses on maximising the intrinsic characteristics of the stones that will compose it.
Given the role of fundamental importance of the gemstones, Bulgari’s expert buyers and gemmologists are constantly scouring the international markets in search of the highest quality stones, which, except in a few extremely rare cases, are acquired cut.
New York is considered to be the most important marketplace for gems of all types, while Geneva, Bangkok and Colombo are in the second tier. Each type of gemstone has its geographical origins: the most prized emeralds, for example, come mostly from Colombia, though by now they are rare even there. The finest sapphires are found in Kashmir, while the main producer is Sri Lanka, source of the majority of the sapphires bought by Bulgari, which has become one of the world’s largest buyers in terms of overall carats. The best rubies come from Myanmar, and though Bulgari has never acquired them directly from that country but rather on the international market, it nonetheless requires that suppliers can guarantee the provenance of its rubies.
As for diamonds, Bulgari only purchases cut stones and collaborates continually with selected suppliers in countries that comply with the Kimberly Process. Since August 2006, the Bulgari Group has been an active member of the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices, an international non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote responsible practices relating to business ethics, social, human rights and environmental performance throughout the diamond and gold jewellery supply chain, from mine to retail.
Once the design idea for a jewel has been finalised, it is translated into a 1:1 rendering and a series of drawings articulating the salient details. At the next step, the raw materials department sets the stones in wax to determine, in collaboration with the designers, whether they comply exactly with the proportions of the approved design. The results of this phase are then shared with the in-house high jewellery workshop, which then begins creating the jewel itself.
The signature feature of Bulgari style, immediately recognisable all over the world, lies in its use of coloured stones. Since the 1960s – the decade in which Bulgari definitively broke with the French school to establish its own style – Bulgari jewels have distinguished themselves for their surprising, unprecedented combinations of precious and semi-precious coloured stones.
The use of semi-precious stones like tourmaline, amethyst, citrine, coral, pearls and garnets, often juxtaposed with rubies, emeralds and sapphires, enabled Bulgari to draw from a much broader palette of colours than usual, including new and unexpected hues like purple, pink and orange and a whole range of deep reds, greens and yellows. The result is a practically infinite number of possible chromatic combinations, from the most vividly contrasting to the most delicately nuanced. Besides, Bulgari has also handled historically important coloured stones, such as carved emeralds and ruby beads belonging to the fabled collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad, Muslim rulers whose authority once extended across much of southern India.
Moreover, its success is largely due to an understanding that the evolution of style must follow changes in times, tastes and habits. The Bulgari style is, in fact, a balanced mix of classicism and modernity. The sense of volume, the love for linearity and symmetry, and certain details recalling art and architecture are classic characteristics of the high-end creations.
To name a few, the Bulgari High Jewellery collection is a collection of unique pieces of jewellery travelling across the world. The collection is composed of around a thousand one-of-a-kind pieces created on the basis of drawings especially developed for fine gemstones.