Do you know who Sotirios Voulgaris is? He was the founder of Bvlgari. He began his career as a jeweller in the Greek village of Paramythia. He migrated to Italy in 1877 and in 1884 he founded Bvlgari. By the way, the trademark is usually written BVLGARI in the classical latin alphabet where V equals the English U. Bvlgari is derived from the surname Voulgaris. The firm has had an illustrious run. Think of the 1960’s when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were living in Rome during the filming of Cleopatra. Mr. Burton bought well and frequently for Elizabeth Taylor.
Elizabeth Taylor’s famous emerald necklace. Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Photo courtesy of de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
A Bulgari watch from the Serpenti collection. Photo courtesy of Bulgari
It is important to mention Marina Bvlgari who is the granddaughter of Sottiro Bvlgari. She along with her sister, Anna, assumed central management and design roles within Bvlgari during the 60’s and early 70’s. She created several of their enduring best sellers. She famously left the company in 1976 shortly after her father died and started Marina B. Her bold, colorful jewelry was an instant hit with movie stars, international society and best dressed lists. Marina B. was very popular throughout the 90’s and had been languishing for a decade when Windsor Jewelers somewhere around 2010 acquired the brand from the Saudi Arabian sheik of Jeddah, Ahmed Fitaihi who had purchased the brand from Marina Bvlgari herself in 1999. By the way, at 82 years of age, Marina B. is happily retired in Monaco.
One of Marina B.’s best selling chokers. Photo courtesy of Marina B.
Getting back to the Bvlgari family story, the company flourished and branched out into other luxury lines becoming a global brand. In March of 2011, the French luxury group LVMH acquired Bvlgari for $6.01 billion, the highest that LVMH has ever offered for any other company. Under the deal, the Bvlgari family sold their 50.4 % controlling stake in exchange for 3% of LVMH, thereby becoming the second biggest family shareholder behind the Arnaults.
If you have picked up a magazine in the last month or two, you can not help but notice the advertising for the company’s newest venture, the Diva Collection which was launched during the Paris Haute Couture week and which features the muse of the moment Carla Bruni Sarkozy. This is big important jewelry. The advertising is everywhere.
Diva Collection Advertisement with Carla Bruni Sarkozy.
Bvlgari Diva Collection. Photo courtesy of Bvlgari.
I personally love the vintage,unusual, one of a kind pieces.
A hardstone and diamond “Ice Lolly” brooch by Bvlgari.
One of a kind bracelet from Bvlgari’s High Jewelry Collection. Photo courtesy of Bvlgari.
The Art of Bvlgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950-1990 presents approximately 150 showstopping pieces from this era, along with sketches and other materials from the Bvlgari archives. The exhibition takes a decade by decade look at Bvlgari’s innovations in jewelry design and includes several striking pieces from the Elizabeth Taylor collection. The exhibit runs from September 21, 2013 through February 17, 2014 at the de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
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