GARDEN OF EDEN
The artistry of the Italian Renaissance comes alive as Bulgari launches its latest high jewellery collection at a magnificent villa in Florence, writes Emilie Yabut-razon
Bulgari launches its latest high jewellery collection, Giardini Italiani, at a magnificent Tuscan villa
Often cited as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is where master artists such as Raphael and Sandro Botticelli lived and thrived. It is also one of the cities where during the 15th century the classical ideals of order and beauty were applied to the creation of ravishing gardens, often decorated with fountains, statues and grottoes, in which symmetrical and geometric arrangements of hedges form miniature mazes.
So it was fitting that Bulgari chose this picturesque, historic Tuscan city to celebrate the birth of its Giardini Italiani collection, 100 one-of-a-kind pieces of high jewellery inspired by the geometry and detail of the stately hedges and flower beds of Italian Renaissance garden design.
The venue for the launch of the collection, the Villa di Maiano, was built in the 15th century and its exquisite gardens are the epitomy of Renaissance design. The historic villa has been owned by noble Italian families, including the Sforzas and the Pazzis, and later an English politician by the name of John
Temple Leader. It has also welcomed many famous guests, including Queen Victoria, who is said to have sketched the villa’s pond for her album during a visit in 1893. The garden features a paved terrace with stone balustrades, geometric boxwood hedges and a host of flower beds. The northern portion of the property features a landscaped park with forests of conifers, waterways and olive groves, dotted here and there with statues and fountains.
Bulgari CEO Jean-christophe Babin and former French first lady Carla Bruni-sarkozy, who stars in the brand’s latest campaign, co-hosted the launch party, welcoming celebrities, politicians and royalty, including Princess Lilly zu Sayn-wittgenstein-Berleburg, Isabella Ferrari, Sonam Kapoor and Luke Evans, to the villa. The lilting tones of a harp floated on the air as models strolled the garden at dusk, graceful showing off the rivetting collection of high jewellery. French pop band The Gypsy Queens provided entertainment through the dinner, and DJ Graziano Della Nebbia provided the dance beats at the after-party. The evening concluded with a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display.
One of the most identifiable Giardini Italiani pieces is the Sparkling Hearts necklace, in which straight lines and diagonals form a brilliant interpretation of Italian Renaissance-era flower beds. Fancy-cut diamonds add a romantic touch to the piece. It can be worn as a necklace, with or without the tassels, or as a brooch.
The elegant Blue Iridescence necklace, inspired by the Roman festoons so popular among Renaissance artists including Rafael, presents an extraordinary set of sapphires, acquired by Bulgari from various parts of the world, combined
with pink spinels and set in yellow gold.
Fountains take pride of place in Water Symphony, a necklace that features a large central sapphire bordered by flowing rivulets of pear- and brilliant-cut diamonds and ribbons of baguettes. Love’s Paradise is a necklace that alludes to the garden as a place of delight, with a 125.35-carat sapphire at the heart of the pendant.
The theme continues in a selection of jewellery watches called Geometry of Time, in which the bracelets and case shapes form diagonal patterns like hedges. Spring Encounter, a floral necklace inspired by the Botticelli painting Allegory of Spring, references Bulgari’s past, resembling a piece from 1969 in yellow gold with pearls, coral and diamonds. Sixteen brilliant diamonds at the centre of each flower vibrate like pistils, and the petals are studded with pavé diamonds. “Bulgari needs to be a leader in fine jewellery, a world signature, showing the best gems in the world—the purest, the brightest,” said Babin during the event. “This collection took many years to put together… it is a display of the brand’s creativity, boldness, audacity and unexpected design.”
BULGARI’S GIARDINI ITALIANI COLLECTION TAKES ELEMENTS FROM THE STYLE OF GARDENS THAT EMERGED IN THE LATE 15TH CENTURY AT VILLAS THROUGHOUT ROME AND FLORENCE
SHIMMERING SKIES Bulgari organised a lavish fireworks display in the gardens of the Villa di Maiano
STAR-STUDDED From left: Bulgari CEO Jean-christophe Babin with actress Isabella Ferrari and brand ambassador Luke Evans; Princess Lilly zu Sayn-wittgensteinBerleburg; Carla BruniSarkozy wears a necklace from the new collection
Indian actress Sonam Kapoor wore a high jewellery necklace from Bulgari’s Diva range
BRILLIANT MAZE The Sparkling Heart necklace features geometric patterns of flower beds