The history of the Bulgari brand began in Rome in 1884, when the silversmith of Greek origin Sotiris Boulgaris, italianized in Sotirio Bulgari opens the eponymous shop in Via Sistina. The Bvlgari script is derived from the Classical Latin alphabet where “v” is used for both the “v” and the “u”.
Having fled from Epirus in 1881 because of the war with the Turks and settled in Italy, in Naples, he immediately started a successful business thanks to his mastery of silver. In 1905 the store moved to the iconic address in Via Condotti, still today the main headquarters of the brand, and other branches were opened in the most popular resorts of the time such as St. Moritz, Bellagio, Naples, Sanremo and Sorrento. The shop sign read “Old Curiosity Shop” entitled Charles Dickens’ novel “The Antique Shop”, inviting English tourists inside.
From the creation of only silver objects, production expanded rapidly with the introduction of jewelry made of precious metals, gold and platinum, and precious stones such as emeralds and diamonds. The jewels proposed by the boutique become real works of art made with a unique style that refers to the Greek tradition. Constantine Bulgari, son of Sotirio, is dedicated to searching for treasures, ancient jewels and inspiration in every part of the world.
It is his brother Giorgio Bulgari who pushes the brand towards high jewelry: thanks to his great knowledge of stones he dedicates himself to valuable processing techniques that make Bulgari become the luxury brand we know today. The success boom took place in the middle of the last century when Bulgari jewels became the most desired by the nobility and stars of the show like Elizabeth Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Sofia Loren, Marlene Dietrich and many others. The brand also gains a strong international expansion with the opening of stores in New York, Paris, Monaco and Geneva.
The Bulgarian collections
But it has always been the city of Rome to inspire the Bulgari collections: among the most famous are Serpenti, Parentesi, Monete e Tubogas. The latter is a processing technique that derives from that used in the creation of the pipes that carried the gas in the twenties. Bulgari reinterprets the Tubogas with jewels made with a seamless tubular band: the jewels are flexible and design at the same time modern and elegant. With this particular technique watches, bracelets, necklaces and rings are created.
Surely one of the most famous collections, Serpenti, was born in the late forties and, as the name itself says, uses the figure of the snake to create with extreme mastery every type of jewel. The snake is an animal that has fascinated since ancient times and is a symbol of wisdom and rebirth, in Bulgari jewelry its sinuous body spirals elegantly over the wearer.
The first creations were made of Tubogas or woven mesh of gold, which perfectly reproduced the body of the reptile. Then several separate elements create the typical scales of the snake and, for example, in the clocks the case is placed inside the head of the animal. The Serpenti collection also distinguishes for the magnificent use of color, for the unique combination of materials, for precious stones and for the sophisticated goldsmith techniques used for the realization.
In the mid-60s, reinterpreting the jewels of the Roman tradition of the first century AD, the Maison introduced the use of ancient coins to embellish its jewels. For each coin used, on the back of the jewel is engraved the name of the emperor that is depicted, the dates and the type of coin. The Parentesi collection, born in the eighties, refers to the architecture of the Italian capital and is a tribute to its eternal splendor. The geometric pattern is inspired by a detail of the pavements of the ancient Roman streets and is the perfect example of the brand’s modular jewelry.
This type of structure, despite the ancient references, makes the modern jewel, with a decorative style and wearable on any occasion. Among the other icons of the brand there is the BVLGARI BVLGARI watch: whose name is engraved on the entire perimeter of the case, which is inspired by the imposing columns of the Roman temples. The presence of the visible logo, which refers to the design of the Roman coins, is the element that immediately made it a successful accessory.
Paolo, Nicola Bulgari and Francesco Trapani, Sotirio’s nephews, took over the company in 1984 and in 1995 it was listed on the stock exchange. Bulgari, with an innovative spirit, has created creations that have written the history of jewelry: today it is one of the most desired luxury brands in the world and has also launched a chain of hotels called Bulgari Hotels & Resorts.