Don’t be shy. It’s what Lucia Silvestri is thinking when she sees the 22 oval spinels and 3,572 carats of emeralds laid out in front of her. The desk in her office in Rome is a laboratory of boldness. “Those words are a kind of mantra I inherited from Mr. Bulgari. I always dare with colors,” says Silvestri, Bulgari’s creative director of high jewelry since 2013. “And even if sometimes initially the combinations could seem too audacious, in the end we always find the perfect harmony among colors, gems, creativity, and craftsmanship.” The spinels are joined in the jewelry lab with other elements, including 38 rubellites, 11 amethysts, and several diamond bars. Those emeralds are joined by lagoon-blue paraiba tourmalines. The chemical reaction? Exactly as planned.
Bulgari’s signature is brave Roman strokes. See: Veruschka in that multicolored gem pendant with the enormous carved emerald dangling off her head, or Diana Vreeland in that gold and white enameled Serpenti, or Anne Hathaway in a 107.15-carat cushion-cut Sri Lankan sapphire. Silvestri has that palette of heritage to dip into—and she does: A 1965 Bulgari piece of emeralds, amethyst, turquoise, and diamonds was inspiration for the necklace shown here. But the Eden the Garden of Wonders high jewelry collection presented in Paris on June 6 pushed even further into the territory. Colors were wilder. Blooms were bigger. One new jewelry watchband snaked entirely up the forearm. The Flowers of Eden, a jeweled floral wreath of a necklace combining tourmalines, carnelians, amethysts, and emeralds surrounded by three large mother-of-pearl flowers with diamonds, seemed, to all present in the Place Vendôme that morning, to mark a high point in Bulgari’s heritage of exuberance. Was this—the first post-pandemic high jewelry collection from the house—Silvestri’s most daring yet?
“I think there are some very bold creations in the Eden the Garden of Wonders collection,” she says, wearing her signature glamorous tumble of Bulgari Monete coin and tubogas necklaces, Serpenti bracelets, and cabochon colored stone rings. “For example, the Mediterranean Reverie necklace, with its rare 107.15-carat cushion-cut Sri Lankan sapphire, is one of the most precious creations we ever realized. Or the Emerald Glory necklace, designed with transformability in mind, can be worn as a necklace, tiara, or choker; it required more than 3,000 hours of handiwork to be fully completed. The gemstones always push my courage and creativity ahead. They are always the center of the idea.”
A few of the one-of-a-kind pieces in the collection use hard stones like chrysoprase, a technique in the Bulgari arsenal (note the turquoise in the heritage necklace mentioned above) but still significantly daring in the design of contemporary high jewelry pieces, especially when combined with more traditionally precious specimens. “The color green is a sort of fil rouge of this collection,” Silvestri says, “and the use of chrysoprase gives an additional delicate but opaque touch, creating a contrast with the transparency of other greens and precious stones. We love to use it in a very harmonic and delicate way—the inspiration for me always comes from the stones. In the case of this palette, it started when I looked at the beauties we had collected.”
These past years have brought the kind of moments that have historically resulted in some of the most memorable—and audacious—jewelry design. Case in point: the stunningly irreverent Art Deco pieces created between the wars. The high jewelry collections we’re seeing now were dreamed up during a period when production cycles slowed down, when there was time for burying ourselves in books, walking, dreaming, daring to imagine what could be. Look out for them. Don’t be shy.
This story appears in the September 2022 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
Editor-in-Chief Stellene Volandes is a jewelry expert, and the author of Jeweler: Masters and Mavericks of Modern Design (Rizzoli).
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