Glass interviews Bulgari’s Jewellery Creative Director – Lucia Silvestri

The Quest for Beauty – Glass enters the Enchanted World of Bulgari

THE iconic Italian jewellery house of Bulgari never stops paying homage to its rich history and tradition, be it in its designs or inspiration, while always evolving and keeping up with the times. Following last year’s complete renovation of the original store on Via Condotti in Rome, this year renowned architect Peter Marino reimagined the Bulgari flagship on London’s prestigious New Bond Street.

Inviting you on a journey to discover the Bulgari world through the Roman-inspired store, the new design draws on Italian classicism and Roman traditions, as far as the English 18th century building allows it. Citing 18th century British architect John Soane as a reference point, Marino took inspiration from Soane’s combination of ancient ruins and new structures, the old and the new, as well as the balance between the primary elements of the structure and decoration.

In celebration of the newly reopened and remodelled store, Glass talks to Lucia Silvestri, Bulgari’s Jewellery Creative Director, a woman who herself embodies the brand and who is still enchanted by the world of Bulgari even after 30 years of being a part of it.

Lucia Silvestri. Bulgari. 2015 © david atlanLucia Silvestri. Bulgari. 2015 © David Atlan

How did you go from biological studies to landing a job at Bulgari’s gemmological department at the age of 18?
I ended up at Bulgari almost by chance, but, as often happens in the case of true love, I was instantly enamoured by the world of precious stones. I fell in love with the colours, the variety and the energy that I felt emanating from the gems. At that point I decided to leave my biology studies and to dedicate all my passion to gemstones.

Bulgari Jewellery_Gem TableBurgari Store, gem table

What was it that appealed to you about Bulgari to want to work for them? And what made you stay for over 30 years?
I am passionate about gemstones and Bulgari has access to the best. I adore jewellery and it is my oxygen; I cannot imagine not being at the heart of beautiful design. Bulgari is my life and my passion. I grew up in the company and grew up with the company. When I began my experience in Bulgari, I felt like Alice in Wonderland and the Bulgari brothers were for me the princes of the gems. Today my relationship with Paolo and Nicola Bulgari is still unique. They are my mentors, teaching me how to negotiate and flourish in the tough, male-dominated world of mining, stone dealing and cutting.

And since Mr Paolo doesn’t travel so much now, I have to be his eyes. After so many years of working together, we can exchange the info over the phone, so I am the one who travels and has direct contact with the dealers. It is not easy to describe the colour and character of the stone on the phone, but after having collaborated together for so long we have a strong connection.

What is your earliest or most powerful memory from working at Bulgari?
For sure I will never forget my first business trip: it was to India. As always, at that time, I was together with Mr Nicola Bulgari and we were invited to the Maharaja’s palace in Jaipur. It was an incredible experience; it seemed to me like a journey to the past, with all these gold treasure chests. It was like a fairy tale, an enchanted world made by precious gemstones, emerald and ruby necklaces and natural pearls.

Jewellery Bulgari_2_EKBERG ANITA CHIAMATEMI BWANAAnita Ekberg wearing Burgari, in Call me Bwana

What does jewellery mean to you?
Jewellery is the precious touch that enhances the natural beauty of a woman, emphasising her seductiveness and her appeal.

What do you find appealing about gemstones?
Their colour, texture and profound beauty; they capture and romanticise my soul. For example, once we finish a new high jewellery creation, I cannot resist the temptation to wear it. So every day, when I am in the office, even if I don’t have any meetings or appointments, I love to wear one of these incredible pieces. You can’t imagine how it changes your mood, how suddenly you feel good and full of radiance.

Jewellery Bulgari_1Moodboard for new Bond Street Store by Peter Marino

You travel around the world to purchase precious gemstones. What are you usually attracted to or are you looking for when choosing these stones?
My choice does not fall exclusively on stones that are unique and extraordinary, but I need to imagine them in a beautiful jewel. It’s the first lesson – behind an amazing stone, you already have to see a jewellery creation. Once back in Rome, we use wax tablets where I experiment for months with colour combinations until I am happy with the tone, weight, length and design of each piece. I do not always know what it will be, but I let the sense of forms and colours guide me.

Bulgari as a brand is very much focused on colour. What does colour mean to you?
Colour means joyful exuberance, passion, energy and fun. I love to mix colours and my instincts create this artistry.

Jewellery Bulgari_Bond Street_2Burgari Store, Bond Street, London

Where do you find inspiration?
My first muses are the gems; their colour, their shapes and even their stories inspire me. I take energy from them. The second great source of inspiration is right here, outside the windows of my office. It is the city of Rome that has been the muse to generations of creative minds. Then, of course, I get inspired by my travels. For example, I can’t stay away from India for too long, and lately China is another great source of inspiration; every time it is an enriching experience.

Can you imagine the colours of the saris, the jewellery that the women wear and the Maharaja’s palaces? And then I always get inspiration from the Bulgari heritage collection and from our archives. But you always have to keep your eyes open. Sometimes it is only later that I can see how some images have led me during the creative process. For example, one of my favourite pieces of the collection, a necklace with two colourful flowers, reminds me of Andy Warhol’s renowned flower paintings.

 by Sara Hesikova


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