Among the first jewellers to use colour for drama rather than value, Bulgari’s glamour has attracted the rich and famous since 1884.
Sotirio Boulgaris struggled to get his company up and running, suffering a robbery, a ban from trading without a licence and, at one point, only 80 cents in his pocket. But come 1900 he had his first store in Rome, selling silver, antiques and jewels.
With a growing reputation, Boulgaris’ sons took the helm and they started to make a name for themselves, selling fine jewellery and antique silver. They developed a strong style, using coloured gemstones, smooth, simple shapes and bold designs, becoming a favourite among the rich and famous, and the ‘beautiful people’ of the day.
Icons and motifs
Bulgari’s Serpenti is probably the most recognisable motif, found in both watches and jewellery. The smooth, elegant coils can be wound or draped, dripping luxury through its precious stones and metals.
Big colourful stones, shining precious metals and thick chokers set with ancient coins all make Bulgari a popular choice, with statement pieces adorning the necks, ears and wrists of the strongest women.
Bulgari’s designers are inspired by what they see around them. Staying true to their roots, they find inspiration in the colour of Rome, the shadows, the light dancing, the buildings and the style.
Ricard Burton famously said that he had introduced Elizabeth Taylor to beer, and in turn, she had introduced him to Bulgari. Burton adorned his love in the most sparkling Bulgari jewels, which are nearly as famous as her, as she chose to wear them in a lot of her films. Today, Bulgari owns many of Elizabeth Taylor’s prized possessions, including the emerald necklace and earrings that were given to her by Richard Burton.
Other celebrity fans include Ingrid Bergman, Sofia Loren and Naomi Campbell. Jessica Chastain even wore Elizabeth Taylor’s famous sapphire sugarloaf necklace on the red carpet.
Rome is intrinsically part of Bulgari, and BVLGARI uses the classical Latin alphabet to spell its name, derived from the surname of their founder.
The company today
Now holding lines in jewellery, watches, leather goods and perfume, Bulgari also has its own line of hotels and resorts – the ultimate luxury spanning the globe from Milan to Dubai, Beijing to Bali – with three more planned by 2020.