Bvlgari captures the spirit of a land famed for its beauty and appreciation of the finer things in life. Discover the wonderful story behind one of Italy’s brightest exports with FineJewels24—the luxury online marketplace for premium jewelry.
Although a quintessentially Italian brand, Bvlgari traces its roots back to Greece, where, in the second half of the 19th century, the young Sotirios Boulgaris founded his very first jewelry store in an ancient village known as Kalarites. The son of Bulgarian immigrants, Sotirios displayed a similar trailblazing spirit to that of his parents. In 1877 he departed to his hometown and set his sights on Italy, initially landing in Naples before moving to Rome in 1881. In just three years he was able to set up his first Bvlgari jewelry shop on Italian soil. There, in the heart of the Eternal City, Sotirios transformed a lifelong passion into what would become a world-renowned symbol of craft and beauty: Bvlgari.
The Bvlgari story glistens at every twist and turn, thanks to innovative creations that set jewelry lovers’ eyes wide in admiration and desire.
Described as ‘Neo-Hellenic”, the early Bvlgari jewelry collections announced the company to the European stage in unforgettable style. The last three decades of the 19th century saw Blvgari jewelry grow in reputation, even attracting English jewelry aficionados to visit the Italian capital for the sole purpose of procuring the novel works of Bvlgari and its master craftsmen. The ‘Neo-Hellenic’ pieces amalgamated artistic characteristics of both Byzantine and Islamic traditions, displaying ornate floral and allegorical designs which echoed Bulgaris’ own history as a child of the Balkans and the Mediterranean—two regions heavily influenced by the great Greek and Turkish empires.
The start of the 20th century ushered in a new wave of artistic expression and styles, and Bvlgari jewelry effortlessly reflected this evolution in conventional aesthetics. Creations in and around the 1920s were stunning Art Deco-influenced renditions of masterly produced silver jewelry. The famed silver bracelet released in 1925 is one such example; an exquisite piece of groundbreaking beauty, with delicate Art Deco style patterns set in onyx, accompanied by a dazzling orbit of diamonds and finished with three opulent emeralds.
The 1930s are remembered for one of the most iconic and beloved products to come out of the Bvlgari atelier: the inimitable Trombino ring. This piece, inspired in name and shape by a little trumpet, was so special that Giorgio (son of founder, Sotirios) presented one of the original rings to the lady who would become his wife. The Trombino, a brilliant silver band, was offset by an array of small diamonds that elegantly framed the ring’s centerpiece: a single, expertly cut emerald.
With the war-time limitations on precious metals and gemstones gone, Bvlgari embraced the newfound freedom in vibrant style. For Bvlgari jewelry, the early part of this era is marked by an emphatic movement toward more colorful, radiant designs. The development culminated in some fascinating pieces, such as a 1953 range of brooches—a kaleidoscope of gold and platinum with elegant purple, red, and blue sapphires, rubies and diamonds.
Never one to miss an innovation in design, Bvlgari conceived a wonderfully novel approach for a remarkable range of brooches known as Tremblant. The genius behind this 1950s and ‘60s collection was plain to see: the precious stones—themselves designed to resemble the petals and head of a flower—were set on the mount using springs. As such, the collective bunch would gracefully tremble, as though caressed by a soft breeze, at any given moment, bringing sophistication and an air of majesty to the wearer.
By the end of the 1960s and the start of the ‘70s the Bvlgari name grew in reputation the world over, and so in turn did the allure of Italy as a jewelry destination. This was all thanks to the remarkable chromatic, multicolored Bvlgari jewelry creations of this era, which put Bvlgari at the center of a new and exciting ‘Italian school’ of jewelry making that garnered attention from across the world.
The ‘80s announced Bvlgari to the world like never before. Powerful, colorful, and more opulent than ever, the statement pieces from this time would go on to leave an impression not just on the company’s aesthetic, but also the industry. It was during this period that Bvlgari produced the Parentesi motif. Taking inspiration from the travertine junctions in the streets of Rome, this would become the most iconic and enduring modular motif used by the company’s designers. It would feature on many of the highly structured, rigid collars and necklaces during this time, and continues to play an important role in the Bvlgari aesthetic.
Bvlgari jewelry in the ‘90s was equally distinctive. There was a focus on subtle chromatic combinations and blending, as well as a move away from the overly structured pieces that came before—but always with an emphasis on the yellow gold that continued to form an elegant base for many designs. For much of this period Bvlgari jewelry drew on the natural elements being used in the pieces. This was typified in the Naturalia collection, which features smoothly carved precious stone set in forms that suggested animals. These themes are also seen in the Chandra collection which combined white porcelain with gentle grooves, not unlike those seen on shells.
In 2014 Bvlgari celebrated its 130 year anniversary. Much had changed during that time, not least the alternative spelling of the company name which is also commonly used: Bulgari. What remained the same throughout its history, however, was the brand’s commitment to innovation and its passion for authentic beauty. These two defining aspects will undoubtedly ensure that Bvlgari stays synonymous with impeccable craft and taste at the very top of the jewelry industry for generations to come.