Bold And Beau­ti­ful

As Bul­gari cel­e­brates its 130th an­niver­sary, Ken­neth Goh dis­cov­ers the ro­mance of jew­els that cap­tured hearts across Hol­ly­wood.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - News -

Richard Bur­ton once said, “I in­tro­duced ed El­iz­a­beth [Tay­lor] to beer. She in­tro­duced d me to Bul­gari.” Not a fair trade-off for some, but Bur­ton’s af­fec­tion for Tay­lor was only matched by her love of sparkle. “El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor was as pas­sion­ate about col­lect­ing hus­bands as she was in jew­ellery,” shared Amanda Triossi, Bul­gari’s His­tor­i­cal Ar­chives cu­ra­tor. “She he was also pas­sion­ate about Bul­gari. She said id one of the great­est as­sets of film­ing Cleopa­tra in Rome was the prox­im­ity to Bul­gari.”

A screen leg­end, the late Tay­lor lived a gilded life, es­pe­cially in the ’50s and ’60s when the mak­ing of films in Italy trans­formed Rome into ‘Hol­ly­wood on the Tiber’. “Rome was the third big­gest movie cen­tre af­ter Hol­ly­wood and Bom­bay,” noted Sabina Belli, Bul­gari’s brand and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ag­ing direc­tor. “That’s where the stars were spend­ing long pe­ri­ods of time. And they all turned to Bul­gari for jew­ellery to flaunt on the red car­pet.”

Those stars would be­come in­ter­na­tional style am­bas­sadors. “They were key in pro­mot­ing the glam­our of Ital­ian fashion,” said cu­ra­tor Son­net Stan­fill of the V&A ex­hi­bi­tion on “The Glam­our of Ital­ian Fashion 1945-2014,” on un­til July 27 in Lon­don. “The pa­parazzi shots, news reels, and fan mag­a­zines were fu­elling an in­ter­na­tional ap­petite for the lux­u­ri­ous cloth­ing made in Italy.”

Sadly, film stars to­day do not pos­sess the same mag­netism as Tay­lor, which ex­plains why her jew­els sold for a record-break­ing USD157 mil­lion (RM503 mil­lion) at the Christie’s auc­tion two years ag ago. Their mys­tique, beauty, and qual­ity, in in­ter­wo­ven with love sto­ries made them leg leg­ends in their own right. When Jes­sica Chas­tain wore Tay­lor’s di­a­mond-and-sap­phire sautoir to Cannes last year, she re­vealed, “I didn’t want to know how much it was worth. It was so thrilling to wear it, but I was over­whelmed, too. I was the first person to wear it since El­iz­a­beth, a and I felt as if I was able to s spend the day with her by wea wear­ing it.” In­ci­den­tally, it sold for USD6.1 mil­lion (RM20 mil­lion) at the auc­tion.

For its 130th an­niver­sary launch in Sydney, Bul­gari re­vealed its most iconic pieces to a VIP guest list. The liv­ing room of a man­sion res­i­dence Bar­ford House, in the ex­clu­sive Belle­vue Hills, was filled with pre­cious gems in a cor­nu­copia of shapes, forms, and in­tri­cate set­tings. The high­light was the “Four Sea­sons” – a quar­tet of neck­laces with del­i­cate mo­tifs de­pict­ing spring, summer, au­tumn, and win­ter. With stones cut to re­sem­ble leaves, vines, and flow­ers, Mother Na­ture never looked so ex­pen­sively pre­cise. “Our sig­na­ture is coloured stones, and putting un­ex­pected stones to­gether. But we try to be bold with di­a­monds. Our best­seller is the Ser­penti – it makes a state­ment,” said JeanChristophe Babin, CEO of Bul­gari, re­fer­ring to the Ul­ti­mate Temp­ta­tion: a me­tre-long coil of 70 fancy di­a­monds end­ing with a 12.16-carat solitaire, 60 carats in all.

The source of in­spi­ra­tion is clear. “In Rome, it doesn’t take much to be in­spired,” Babin ex­claims. “It’s monumental what­ever the pe­riod. Ceil­ings are 10 me­tres high, there are paint­ings ev­ery­where, sculp­tures, and museums. Rome is larger than life. And our jew­ellery re­flects that.”

FROM TOP: The stun­ning Ul­ti­mate Temp­ta­tion Ser­penti neck­lace with 70 fancy di­a­monds, end­ing with a 12- carat solitaire; the beau­ti­ful hues of the Four Sea­sons drop ear­rings

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