Bulgari's Lucia Silvestri Breaks Down Her Favourite Magnifica High Jewellery Pieces
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.
Imperial Spinel necklace
At 131.21 carats, the extraordinary gemstone at the heart of this necklace is the fourth largest spinel in the world. Silvestri recalls seeing the stone for the first time: "I received a call about this jewel from a collector. At such a huge size, I was expecting not-so-great quality but when I finally saw the pictures and video, I was shocked. It was really one-of-a-kind; red but not really red, with a hint of orange. It was like there was a fire burning inside.
"It may be the fourth largest in the world but I would say it's number one in terms of quality," she concludes.
For the design, the creative director was adamant on sharing the beauty of this stone. "We had so many ideas to mount the stone but in the end, we decided to let it sit on its own in the centre to emphasise its beauty, size, colour and clarity."
Indeed, this precious jewel from Tagikistan is set proudly in the middle of this intricate creation of cascading diamonds and emerald beads to complete its show-stealing appearance.
Mediterranean Queen necklace
This necklace features five substantial oval cushion-cut Paraiba tourmalines, with a total weight of 500 carats, connected by a sumptuous design of cabochon emeralds and diamonds. "They were unique, full of happiness and energy," says Silvestri about the glowing aqua hue of the extraordinary and incredibly rare Paraiba tourmalines in this piece. "Bulgari always dares to use huge stones."
But how much is too much? She laughs and repeats the tagline of Bulgari's campaign last year: Mai Troppo, which means 'never too much' in English.
Fluid Tanzanite necklace
Fluid Tanzanite necklace
Several pieces in this collection are dedicated to renown British-Iraqi architect, artist and designer, the late Zaha Hadid. Silvestri had previously met the visionary to reinvent Bulgari's iconic B.zero 1 design with a structurally intricate design, inspired by the Colosseum in Rome.
In the Fluid Tanzanite high jewellery creation, Bulgari's iconic invention, the tubogas, is encrusted with pavé diamonds, incorporating a Hadid-inspired design of curves and irregular geometry. Tying together this fusion of styles is a deep blue tanzanite weighing 77.88 carats in the centre.
Another design that Silvestri that was inspired by the Hadid's architectural designs is the Monete Weave, a diamond-encrusted choker with a coin of Roman Emperor Nero at its heart—a piece that she has been spotted wearing frequently on social media. "You can see the combination of Bulgari's house style with Hadid's, especially the idea of incorporating curves into geometry," she says before demonstrating the necklace's surprising flexibility.
Bulgari Ruby Metamorphosis necklace
With convertible and detachable elements, this Bulgari Ruby Metamorphasis can be worn in at least nine different ways to enhance the beauty of its central 10.02-carat antique cushion-cut Mozambique ruby. This masterpiece also features a glittering tassel of baguette diamonds and cabochon rubies with fluid movement—a testament to the unparalleled craftsmanship at the Bulgari studios.
Silvestri agrees that this technical marvel has elevated the house's jewellery-making to new heights, a positive result from the charge of creativity among her artisans and herself brought on by the pandemic.
"We want to continue building on this," she says, bringing great hope that her new jewellery collection—which she has already started working on—will be just as revolutionary as the Bulgari Magnifica.
Watch the dramatic unveiling of Bulgari's Magnifica High Jewellery in Milan below: