Last updateWed, 25 Mar 2020 1pm

The Story Behind the Stone: Bodacious Bulgari

Rome’s celebrated house of Bulgari has been the go-to jeweler with jet-setting shoppers for decades. From its inception, Bulgari jewels flaunted distinctive traits that helped endear the brand to serious collectors. Their use of cabochon-cut gemstones particularly with precious stones was considered iconoclastic when they debuted in the 1960s. Bulgari’s bold pairings of disparate stone types and analogous colors, like a bib neckpiece they created with turquoise, emerald, and amethyst, stunned traditional jewelry fans. These daring design moves also helped high-end jewelry collectors rethink their collection by wearing important jewels every day, not just on special occasions.

Jarrett-MayGlobal audiences soon developed a taste for Bulgari after seeing the bodacious jewels draped on Roman movie stars in the 1950s and 60s. When Bulgari’s influence broadened from Italian film goddesses to Hollywood divas like Elizabeth Taylor, their brand exploded.

“Seeing Bulgari jewelry on Sophia Loren or Gina Lollobrigida boosted the brand,” one expert said. “Before Bulgari expanded abroad in the 1970s, it was the jeweler of Rome. So when jewelry lovers visited Rome they would go to Bulgari.” One of Taylor’s extravagant Bulgari jewels from Richard Burton is shown here.

Later on, the shoulder-padded 1980s played the perfect foil to the Italian jeweler’s voluptuously proportioned gemstone chokers. “I think your jewelry is the 80s,” Andy Warhol once told company heir Nicola Bulgari.

Today, the Bulgari brand remains on-trend and avidly collected by the cognoscenti whose cultivated taste demands the best. They have evolved with the times to reflect the preferences of modern jewelry fans. Yet their dedication to exquisite old-world craftsmanship is what makes Bulgari a timeless designer.

Jarrett-May-1With all the exciting new gemstone cuts and stone pairings today’s designers offer, it’s easy to overlook the one timeless element of jewelry that transcends trends; craftsmanship. Bulgari scours each individual jewel for every part of a design. They cut their own stones. Ignoring calibration, these stones are custom fit to each item Bulgari turns out. And they take their time to get it right. It’s not unheard of for a Bulgari piece to be one year in the making. Some things, like the art of perfection, surpass fashion or fad. Bulgari has mastered that.

Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).