Sculpted, striking and in a palette of ravishing shades, Bulgari’s latest collection of jewellery echoes the house’s signature design codes while still appearing fresh and fun. Creative director Lucia Silvestri tells us more.
“Designing this collection has been an absolute joy, there are colourful balloons, cakes and even ice cream”. – Lucia Silvestri, Bulgari’s creative director.
The tales involving the love affair some have had with Bulgari jewellery are as colourful and captivating as the jewels themselves. From the famed fixation shared by screen and stage icons such as Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergman to the devotion displayed by modern-day royalty, the storied Italian house delivers designs and motifs that embody the essence of women in ways that are both timely and timeless.
“The Bulgari woman is and has always been a very feminine woman but at the same time very aware of herself, of her autonomy, of her power and of knowing how to always interpret this,” says Bulgari’s creative director of jewellery Lucia Silvestri. And few know the Bulgari woman better than Silvestri. It was during a chance meeting between the then 18-year-old biology student and Paolo Bulgari (great-grandson of founder Sotirio Bulgari) that the now seasoned gem hunter first discovered her passion for precious stones. An innate fascination that was immediately recognised by Bulgari brothers Paolo and Nicola. As Silvestri rather modestly puts it, “I was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.” From trekking through the depths of Thailand and Sri Lanka to scouring the cities of Geneva and New York, over the years Silvestri, rightly considered one of the best in the business, eagerly embarked on one adventure after the other as she searched the globe in a quest to bring back the very best stones for Bulgari.
“One of the first things I learned is to select and then acquire gems only if I could see a possible use for them. Which means that in the very act of purchasing, before the design and realisation phases, I was imagining compositions of colours and forms that might suggest the pieces of jewellery they would become.”
She adds: “A stone must speak to me, to excite, to give off an energy. I am very sensitive to the energy of the stones and each gem must have all these qualities to make it unique.”
In her current role, which she’s held since 2013, Silvestri heads up gemstone acquisition and takes responsibility for overall jewellery design. She insists that balancing both the brand’s 134-year heritage and its innovative spirit is something that now comes naturally.
As she says: “I’ve worked for Bulgari for such a long time, its DNA is now a part of me. I know that to maintain a level of style we need to be innovative. I think that we must always excite with something new, but at the same time with something wearable, something that has a recognisable style. In this sense people are aware you’re wearing a Bulgari design. And thanks to our increasingly sophisticated manufacture, an exquisite combination of stones and our signature touch of femininity, we are able to reinvent ourselves in this way.”
The brand often looks to its native city and Italian birthright as endless sources of inspiration. The new Festa high jewellery collection is one such dazzling example of this. An ode to the joy of Italian art de vivre, discover more than 100 pieces, championing a mix of precious coloured stones, diamonds, corals and jade, adorning a new series of necklaces, bracelets, rings and more. Falling into three ‘festival’ themes: Festa dell’Infanzia, Festa della Principessa and Festa della Tradizione, Silvestri explains that the range is filled with childhood memories. “Designing this collection has been an absolute joy, there are colourful balloons, cakes and even ice cream. It was a collection with which we’ve broken the rules but we have been rewarded. It’s a collection that I believe can leave its mark.”
With playful pieces like an adorable gelato brooch drizzled with rubies and pavé-set diamonds, and a cheerful cake-inspired cocktail ring crowned with a ‘cherry on top’ cabochon ruby, it’s easy to see why these pieces were so much fun to work on.
Another jewellery collection generating plenty of buzz is the B.zero1 Labyrinth, fronted by model of the moment Bella Hadid. Once again Italy’s architectural and artistic heritage serves as the inspiration. Modelled on the Colosseum in Rome, B.zero1 Labyrinth was designed to be an expression of strength and character, one that would empower women with its chic yet unconventional beauty. Seductive curves of white and rose gold in a striking spiral design make this a worthy addition to the brand’s famed B.zero1 Design Legend line and will no doubt appeal to a new audience – as will the collection’s hip new ambassador.
Looking ahead, Silvestri points out that it is transitions such as these that she’d like to focus on. “We are reaching a generation that has moved away from more classic and traditional jewellery. To make Bulgari known from a more contemporary point of view, we need to make contemporary what was so triumphant in our past.”