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Bulgari, Chopard and the Legacy of High Jewellery

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When people talk about high jewellery it’s never long before big names like Bulgari, Chopard or De Beers enter the conversation. Bulgari in particular has long been synonymous with the highest standard of luxury design.

The grandiose esplanade of their showroom interior makes for the perfect setting for their creations, capturing the regional history of Rome, Italy, whilst also channeling the modern glamour that enriches the industry. Recently, in the lavish Rue d’ Artois district of Paris, Bulgari hosted a soiree in the verdant gardens of the Apicius Restaurant. Their intention was to fete an elegant collection of high jewellery pieces, discarding the usual rigid layout of vitrines for a more fluid approach, perpetuated by fleeting glimpses of graceful models who wandered the party, adorned with jewellery from Bulgari’s new collection. Amongst these stunning models was the Italian singer-songwriter, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who wore an Emerald and Ruby Necklace with a matching bracelet. The event also attracted an assemblage of Hollywood stars, from Thirty Seconds to Mars front-man and Oscar-winner, Jared Leto, to the crown of the Star Trek reboot, Zachary Quinto, alongside the likes of such royalty as the Princess of Venice, Clotilde Courau. Together the various guests admired the fruits of Bulgari on the terraces of Apicius. Then they wandered through the gardens and soaked-in the serene vista, along with a fair number of cocktails, while Marjorie Gubelmann provided a mix of upbeat backing music.

The reason I’ve opted to describe this particular setting is because it relates to the legacy of high jewellery, namely the inspiration that Bulgari draws from a particular type of environment. You see, when Bulgari launched their high jewellery collection, Giardini Italiani, they released around one hundred unique commercial pieces, coupling the geometrical precision of skilled artisans with the motifs of romantic poets.  Interestingly, each individual piece had also been crafted to reflect the intricate art of gardening, which flourished during the Italian Renaissance.

Essentially Bulgari had adopted an old-school style that reflected the intimate form of the Italian garden. To be more specific, the designs were wrought to imitate the gardens of certain bucolic palazzos and villas. They also featured the motifs and designs of the Renaissance, when Italy bloomed with the genius of various humanist architects, sculptors and painters and flashes of the early enlightenment suddenly punctuated history, like fireworks striking in the night.

In short, Bulgari developed a tradition of making high jewellery that benefited from the supple marriage of nature and art. The living, breathing garden became their marble block, with the cascade fountains seeming to mirror the shimmer of diamonds, while the evergreen trees and flower patches evoked the many colours of gemstones. Today, as the Apicius soiree proves, Bulgari continues to refer to nature for inspiration, producing all kinds of new pieces characterised by a graceful attitude of savoir-faire and various art nouveau influences.

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The Swiss-based company Chopard is another purveyor of high jewellery, famed for their luxury collections and the unique aesthetic of their elegant designs. When Chopard unveiled their Capsule Collection at the Parisian Haute Couture Festival they revealed an array of fine pieces, focusing on the aura of mystery that suffuses opals. They showed that iridescent opals could be both evocative and alluring, whilst using shards of light to beautify the facets and achieve different effusions of mingled light and colour. One of their centerpieces was an obsidian-black opal used to draw the viewer’s eye and evoke a palpable mystique. Like Bulova, Chopard also sought inspiration from the depths of artistic gardens, using the opal flower motif to shape pieces that seemed to blossom against the wearer’s skin. At the same time they combined avant-garde materials, like titanium and zirconium, with vivid sapphires, tsavorites, rubies and black diamonds. It seemed as though they wanted to attract their buyers to the singularity of the gemstone. Yet they also couldn’t resist making multi-gemstone pieces with floral motifs, whilst exercising their skill as lapidarists to invite their audience into a glittering garden of their own making.

 

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