This week, Bulgari unveiled its brand new high jewellery collection in a stunning film by Tommaso Ottomano. Shot at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan against the operatic singing of the legendary Andrea Bocelli, the exquisite pieces were donned by a glowing cast of supermodels, including Vittoria Ceretti, Lily Aldridge, He Cong and Solange Smith.
A stunning collection of 350 jewellery and watch masterpieces, Magnifica pays tribute to powerful women in the world across time—a natural decision considering Bulgari's team of jewellery designers comprises solely of women.
From the Art Deco artist Tamara de Lempicka and Maharani of Indore to the modern voices of architect Zaha Hadid, and Chinese writer Eileen Chang, the inspiration births magnificent creations that push the boundaries of jewellery design and craftsmanship while also channeling the spirit of eras past.
Speaking from her atelier at Bulgari's headquarters in Rome, creative director Lucia Silvestri gives us an insight on the journey of creating the Magnifica collection, which has been a year in the making.
"This is how I normally start the day," she says, pouring out a small cloth bag of sparkling jewels onto her work table. Using her hands, she shapes them into a mound resembling a necklace before selecting a piece from her cache of larger, exquisite gemstones from all around the world to create an arrangement that will later inspire the design. She points out that Bulgari is known for its careful selection of gemstones but that discernment posed a significant challenge in the early stages of conceptualising Magnifica due to the pandemic.
Unable to travel, the selection process for some of the beautiful gemstones took much longer than usual. "We couldn't work with videos and pictures. Instead, we received the stones in Rome and made the selection here," she explains, before revealing a selection process that underscores her expertise in gemstones, honed through many years of training under the master, Paolo Bulgari himself.
Buy a stone not only because it is beautiful, but also because you can use it
"I touch the parcel of the stone without seeing it. I can feel straight away whether the cut of the stone is beautiful. And if I open the parcel and the stone is as beautiful as the cut and I can feel its energy, I say, 'Bonjourno!'. But I also have to be able to use it. One of the biggest lessons I learned from Mr Bulgari is to buy a stone not only because it is beautiful, but also because you can use it."
Still, there is a silver lining to being grounded in Rome. She recalls the "charge of creativity" that flowed through the Bulgari headquarters, which perhaps accounts for the magnitude of this collection and its boundary-pushing designs. "I could work really closely with the artisans in Rome and follow the process from beginning to end. We wanted to emphasise the quality of the gems and our craftsmanship."
She proceeds to share the stories behind some of her favourite pieces from the collection.