Just by holding a precious stone Paolo Bulgari can tell how it should be cut. In 2013 he bought three spectacular takhti emeralds but decided the color was too dark, so cut them in half to show off their full brilliance. They were set in the fabulous takhti bracelet. This was one of many stories that inspired author Vincent Meylan’s new book, Roma, Passion, Jewels – Talking with Paolo and Nicola Bulgari. Meylan was granted rare access to both Bulgari brothers while writing this very personal book.
For those working at Bulgari, the influence of Rome is ubiquitous. Rome and the Italian sense of la dolce vita influenced everything they created. When CEO Jean-Christophe Babin joined Bulgari in 2013, he reminded customers of this special relationship, which is explored in the book. Hollywood movie stars and the jet set flocked to Rome in the 1950s and 1960s.
Nicola Bulgari recounts how Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani, Clark Gable, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor all visited Bulgari, using the boutique’s private entrance. Rome, Hollywood, glamour and Bulgari would be forever linked. Bulgari’s signature is precious gems in beautiful settings that aren’t high-maintenance. The Bulgaris believe jewelry should be worn and bring joy to its owners. “Jewelry made by Bulgari is never ceremonial, even if it is a very important piece,” says Meylan.
Last year, Bulgari celebrated its 130th anniversary. Marking such a significant milestone sparked a desire to preserve the company heritage. Lucia Boscaini, Bulgari’s brand and heritage curator, trawls the world to buy back important pieces from Bulgari’s history. These unique jewels become part of the Heritage Collection and are shown at exhibitions throughout the world and at DOMVS, a private gallery in the Bulgari flagship boutique on Via dei Condotti in Rome. Boscaini visited a 94-year-old Japanese woman with a treasure trove of Bulgari pieces and bought four of them, including a diamond sautoir from the 1930s, a gift from the woman’s mother-in-law to celebrate her first trip on the Orient Express. She had a photo of herself on the trip wearing the sautoir, dancing with her husband. The story is quintessential Bulgari: the exquisitely crafted necklace representing a moment of joie de vivre in the woman’s life.