RE­TURN of the DIVA

Bul­gari launches a high jew­ellery dream, in­spired by the women who wore it. Natasha Kraal pre­views the col­lec­tion in Paris.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Watches & Jewels -

The gems had just ar­rived from Portofino. Dra­matic drops of rubel­lites, peri­dot, amethysts, and man­darin gar­nets all set to daz­zle on sunkissed skin. Sap­phires and emer­alds as deep and as rich as the seven seas sparkled be­fore us. Iri­des­cent mother-of-pearl was carved into charm­ing flow­ers; and there were di­a­monds, se­ri­ous di­a­monds. Days be­fore they had all been in the an­cient gar­dens of the Cer­vara Abbey amid the lush top­i­ary, per­go­las, and the scent of Mediter­ranean jas­mine, where 50 of the world’s most im­por­tant jew­ellery clients pre­viewed Bul­gari’s new high jew­ellery col­lec­tion, along with the req­ui­site Hol­ly­wood stars.

Pre­mier­ing a one-of-a-kind fan-shaped neck­lace fea­tur­ing di­a­mond-stud­ded beads of pre­cious stones cast in pink gold and pavé di­a­monds that mid­sum­mer’s night was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, for­mer first lady of France, mu­si­cian, muse, and now face of the Diva col­lec­tion. The choice was un­ex­pected yet ac­claimed; as was Terry Richard­son, the pho­tog­ra­pher provo­ca­teur known for his au­da­cious style and shock­ing of­f­cam­era an­tics, who has cap­tured the lively in­sou­ciance of Bruni-Sarkozy in the global cam­paign. Diana Ross, the other diva of the night, ser­e­naded all with her brand of soul, as ‘El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor’, ‘Ava Gard­ner’, and ‘Sophia Loren’ mod­elled one-of-a-kind pieces in­spired by those very movie icons of the ’50s and ’60s who fa­mously wore Bul­gari jew­ellery on and off the big screen.

All that sun, sea, and celebrity cast such a sen­sual patina on the jew­ellery that by the time they ar­rived at Bul­gari’s Av­enue Ge­orge V bou­tique in Paris, they prac­ti­cally oozed la dolce vita. This was a sum­mer’s day in July, dur­ing haute cou­ture week, the per­fect set­ting for haute joail­lerie, both be­ing dec­o­ra­tive dis­plays of ex­quis­ite de­tails and in­ge­nious tech­niques that raise crafts­man­ship to art. Like cou­ture to­day, there was a fresher out­line to the im­pres­sive reper­toire on dis­play – a stand-out piece of which was a mod­ern-day ma­ha­rani’s bracelet of six mag­nif­i­cent takhti emer­alds en­cir­cled by ru­bies and di­a­monds in a 240-carat cre­ation – and a bo­hemian de­noue­ment wait­ing to be de­liv­ered.

“My favourite is this happy neck­lace,” ex­claimed Lu­cia Sil­vestri, the cre­ative di­rec­tor of jew­ellery for Bul­gari, cradling the ex­u­ber­ant neck­lace formed with a cas­cade of rubel­lite droplets, pear­shaped peri­dot, and mother-of-pearl flow­ers ac­cen­tu­ated with di­a­monds. Its fab­u­lous­ness also comes from its vi­vac­ity. “When you wear the neck­lace, be­lieve me, you’ll feel hap­pier be­cause the colours are so strong, de­ter­mined, and happy.”

And yet, “No­body wanted to make that neck­lace, only Mr. Paolo, Mr. [Ni­cola] Bul­gari, and me,” said the spritely lady who has worked for more than 30 years with the founder’s grand­sons, now the chair­man and vice chair­man re­spec­tively, of the lux­ury jewellers. “I pre­pared the stones on the ta­ble with all the colours and Mr. Paolo thought it was beau­ti­ful, but the house de­sign­ers thought it was all too much. Mr. Bul­gari said to go ahead and make it; to add only a bit of di­a­monds and ‘let the stones do the talk­ing.’”

Bul­gari has for decades been about big, bright gems, al­though it was first founded in 1884 as a sil­ver em­po­rium by Sotirios Voul­garis, a Greek sil­ver­smith who Ital­ianised his name upon es­tab­lish­ing the busi­ness in Rome. Only in 1915 did the com­pany ven­ture into jew­ellery, and by the Fifties it had be­come world-renowned for its Ro­manesque ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs and sig­na­ture coloured pre­cious stones.

Terry Richard­son and Carla Bruni- Sarkozy in Portofino High Jew­ellery Diva ear­rings in sap­phires and di­a­monds, Bul­gari

High Jew­ellery Diva bracelet in white gold with emer­alds, ru­bies, and di­a­monds, Bul­gari

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