Spotlight on a Designer – House of Bulgari

Spotlight on a Designer – House of Bulgari

16 October

O’Reilly’s have the pleasure of offering four stunning pieces of Bulgari jewellery this month including  two vintage Bulgari Pieces dating back to the 1960s. The vintage gold cuff and neckpiece are indictive of the innovative volume and simple shapes that the House of Bulgari used at this time to break away from the traditional French style jewellery that previously dominated.

Lot 320, a vintage gold neckpiece.

Founded in 1884 by Sotirios Boulgaris, a silversmith and Greek Immigrant, the House of Bulgari started out very modestly in Naples selling silver items on a street stall. Eventually he moved to Rome where he opened his first shop selling jewellery and silver around 1900. The iconic 10 via de Condetti shop was opened in 1905 by his two sons where it still stands today.

Lot 321, a vintage gold cuff bracelet.

Although they made fine jewellery from the 1920’s, the iconic Bulgari style did not develop until the 50s and 60s when the next generation took over. They began to use bold combinations of colourful cabochon stones, daring volume and smooth simple shapes offering an exotic and exciting new choice in style of jewellery. This brave look was soon recognised as the Bulgari style. The matching suite of necklace and cuff bracelet offered for sale (lots 320 & 321 seen above) are indicative of this bold style. The Dolce Vita years in the 1950’s were the most popular time for Bulgari, they were revolutionary in their combination of colour, shape and style, Andy Warhol was known to visit the shop when in Rome because he considered the jewels to be contemporary art. Fans of Bulgari are Elizabeth Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren and Naomi Campbell to name but a few

Elizabeth Taylor sporting a Serpenti snake watch

Bulgari is proud of its origins and this is expressed through their iconic designs; The Serpenti is drawn from the serpent of Roman mythology, the Bulgari Bulgari and Monete collections were inspired by ancient Roman coins, and the four-petal flower motif of the Fiorever line is supposed to be a Roman symbol for happiness and joy. The B. Zero1 is arguably the most emblematic, having been inspired by the imposing shapes of the historic Colosseum, we are delighted to offer an 18ct yellow gold example (lot 178) in our forthcoming sale.

Lot 178, B. Zero 1 gold ring.

One of my favourites, The Tubogas motif, was inspired by the shape of the gas carrier pipes in use from the 1920s onwards. This technique, developed during the second half of the nineteenth century, was revived by Bulgari in the 1970s, becoming one of the firm’s trademarks.

We have a very fine example of a Tubogas bangle, lot 371 above, for sale in our October auction. The gold bangle is set with topaz, tourmaline and amethyst cabochon stones.