Tremblant brooch made from Platinum, diamond, yellow diamond by Bulgari is one of the jewels on display in the Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style exhibition at NGV. © Bulgari . Image: NGV
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – A stunning emerald and diamond jewelry from the personal collection of Elizabeth Taylor and a ruby and diamond necklace worn by Sophia Loren are the centerpieces of a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, NGV. Titled Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style, the pieces are from Bulgari’s remarkable archives.
The Bulgari archives are rich in history and elegance. More than 80 stunning pieces of jewelry alongside film and photography are on display. The jewelry highlight the Italian design house’s enduring relationships with stars of Hollywood and Italian cinema. There is a particular focus on the Dolce Vita period of the 50s and 60s when Rome was a popular location for Hollywood films.
Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV explains that beyond the historical value of the gems on display, the collection illuminates the aesthetic sensibilities of Bulgari. He notes:
Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style illustrates the bold design aesthetic of Bulgari through a selection of exquisite gems worn by iconic stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergman. The exhibition thematically explores design motifs for which the firm is best known – the serpent, ancient coins and striking color combinations, among others.’ .
An emerald ring presented to Taylor by her paramour and fifth husband Richard Burton is another major highlight of the show. He gave her the ring when their love affair first began in Rome on the set of Cleopatra(1963).
In addition to Taylor’s emerald ring, the show also includes gorgeous but delicate tremblant brooches. The tremblant brooches got their names from small springs in the jewelry designs which create a quivering effect. A floral hairpiece worn by Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman when she starred in The Visit (1964) is a beautiful example. Other jewels include Sautoirs from the 1970s and pieces featuring cabochon cut gems in chromatic combinations that convey Bulgari’s unique style.
Favored by royalty, actresses and high society alike, the story of Bulgari dates back more than a century. It all began when Greek silversmith Sotirio Bulgari went to Rome to seek his fortune. There, he opened his first jewelry shop in 1884. A passionate and creative silversmith, Bulgari was dedicated to beauty and excellence.
It did not take long before Bulgari rose to become an emblem of Italian excellence and creativity. An imaginative soul always in search of new ways of expressing his originality, Bulgari drew inspiration from his Greek and Roman heritage, forging a distinct style that combines tradition and innovation.
Bulgari’s style and innovation captivated leading women, many of who have worn his elegant design. Grace Kelly, Anita Ekberg, and Gina Lollobrigida are some of the beautiful women who have adorned Bulgari’s designs. Other stunning jewels are showcased alongside their jewelry.
Lucia Boscaini, Bulgari Brand, and Heritage Curator notes that the Bulgari designs are not only steep in Italian history; they also demonstrate high aesthetic values. She explains:
Spanning from the 1930s until today, the works illustrate a strong design heritage and aesthetic evolution, deeply entrenched in Italian history and artisanal traditions. Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style showcases the glamour of a Golden Age of cinema and design, and represents Bulgari’s constant experimentation and inimitable aesthetic codes.
In addition to the show, a conversation highlighting the history and creative design behind the brand’s exquisite jewelry will be held. In the conversation are Lucia Boscaini, Brand, and Heritage Curator, Bulgari; Paola Di Trocchio, Curator, Fashion and Textiles, NGV; and Amanda Dunsmore, Senior Curator, International Decorative Arts and Antiquities, NGV.