For the unveiling of its Magnifica high jewellery collection, which celebrates inspirational women, Rome-based luxury house Bulgari staged a runway show at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, in a show of support for the city post-pandemic. The glittering event, which showcased the 350-piece collection of jewels and watches, was the culmination of a two-day launch and saw tenor Andrea Bocelli perform as supermodels Lily Aldridge, Vittoria Ceretti, He Cong, Blesnya Minher and Solange Smith took to the runway. Live streamed globally on June 21 on Bulgari’s website and social media platforms, the show was as big and bold as the Magnifica pieces themselves.
Place Vendôme and the Parisian houses may be the epicentre of high jewellery, but one outsider that’s always held its unapologetic own is the Roman jeweller Bulgari. The maison has long injected flair and elan into the rarefied world of high jewellery; just cue the titles of its recent collections – Festa, Cinemagia, Barocko – all dreamed up names but which instantly and vividly evoke their underlying themes (parties, film and Roman architecture, respectively).
Bulgari’s Magnifica is the latest high jewellery collection, which debuted earlier this month in Milan to a select, intimate group of clients, celebrities and press, who in addition to seeing this sumptuous collection, were regaled with a private concert at the city’s La Scala opera house. Today, the rest of the world can finally relish in Magnifica, thanks to an online screening of a catwalk show privately staged in Milan’s iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade.
Magnifica is a fitting name for this 350-piece strong collection that’s Bulgari’s most precious and expensive collection yet, headlined by seriously jaw-dropping stones, which make their way into some 60 creations priced over €1m each. Most standout is the Imperial Spinel necklace, set with a 131.21 carat spinel that hails from Tajikistan, and which is the fourth largest known spinel in the world (and billed as the largest currently on the market). Lucia Silvestri, Bulgari’s dynamic creative director of jewellery, has set the stone into a necklace of cascading emerald beads and diamonds, which really makes the whole piece pop – and which, Silvestri says, represents “Bulgari’s absolute commitment to uniqueness”.
Elsewhere Silvestri has tapped into the inextinguishable interest in Paraiba tourmalines, an electrifying stone that Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin says is “currently most in demand because of its rarity, magic and joyful colour”. The stone sits pride of place in the fabulous Mediterranean Queen necklace, featuring five gobstopper sized oval cushion-cut Paraibas totalling 500 carats, and which punctuate bejewelled strands of curved cabochon emeralds and diamonds. Inspired by a Bulgari necklace from 1969, its hue and form evoking the sea, the necklace took 2,400 hours to create.
Coloured stones are a Bulgari forte and other house codes slide into the collection too, such as the Hypnotic Emerald necklace designed around a snake, the house mascot, its scales a sinuous mesh of pave and baguette diamonds and emerald cabochons, which meet in an exquisite 93.83ct cabochon-cut Colombian emerald placed in the snake’s mouth. Ancient coins are another hallmark – and a style signifier of Silvestri herself, who is usually found boldly pairing gold coin chokers with chic white suits. The Monete Weave sets the coin – a profile of the Roman emperor Nero, framed by a cool octagonal bezel – amid a choker of entwined gold and diamonds, its architectural style recalling the work of Zaha Hadid.
Hadid is just one of many muses in this collection (the late architect also inspired another fluid, supple creation topped with a 77.88ct tanzanite), and Silvestri says that Magnifica is notably a tribute to women. There’s the rebellious, 17th century baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, the namesake of a joyful, swirling necklace that channels the artist’s rebellious spirit and dynamic character with a 1960s-esque medley of cabochon rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds. Elsewhere, one of China’s most celebrated writers, Eileen Chang, inspired the Imperial Diamond necklace, a splendid 12.16 yellow drop diamond dangling from a mesh of white and yellow diamonds that feels at once classic yet audacious – and very magnificent indeed.