HER­ITAGE

Bul­gari jewellery his­to­rian Amanda Triossi talks to Denyse Yeo about the im­por­tance of her­itage and her hunt for vin­tage jewels around the world.

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Bul­gari jewellery his­to­rian Amanda Triossi is a guardian of the brand’s her­itage

Bul­gari’s ar­chiv­ist, his­to­rian and cu­ra­tor since 1997, Triossi has helped the Ital­ian lux­ury jew­eller build the Bul­gari Her­itage Col­lec­tion by buy­ing vin­tage pieces at auc­tion. She was in town re­cently for a ret­ro­spec­tive col­lec­tion of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor’s Bul­gari col­lec­tion, so we asked her to share her thoughts about jewels and her work:

El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor is one of the great­est icons of the 20th cen­tury. She com­bines a lot of ap­peal­ing fac­tors – beauty, glam­our, suc­cess, and a bit of love and sex. She was par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about Bul­gari. Her col­lec­tion of jewels was mas­sive. She once wrote that one of the great­est as­sets of film­ing Cleopa­tra was not be­cause she signed the first mil­lion-dol­lar con­tract, but be­cause the movie was film­ing in Rome and she was close to Bul­gari.

The love of her life Richard Bur­ton gave her lot of the sig­nif­i­cant Bul­gari pieces. She wore her fa­mous emer­ald necklace through­out her life, so it shows a con­ti­nu­ity of at­tach­ment to­wards th­ese par­tic­u­lar jewels. But my favourite is a sap­phire and di­a­mond necklace, bought by Bur­ton for her 40th birth­day in 1972, with a 52.72-carat Burmese sap­phire.

It sounds a bit blase but I trained as an auc­tion­eer and took sales, so that at­mos­phere at auc­tions does not in­tim­i­date me. At auc­tion, you’ve got split sec­onds to fig­ure things out. It’s not like buy­ing in a shop, and say­ing I want that and that, or I’m get­ting five pieces, so what dis­count could you give me.

How do I se­lect the best pieces? Fine vin­tage Bul­gari pieces do not come on the mar­ket that of­ten, so one has to be se­lec­tive. Jewels gen­er­ally come on the mar­ket for the three Ds – death, dis­ease and di­vorce. I don’t think the three Ds have af­fected a lot of Bul­gari col­lec­tors, so there are not many Bul­gari pieces on the mar­ket. I want the clas­sic rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bul­gari pieces, not the quirky ones.

Lots of tales sur­round th­ese jewels – so many sto­ries. There’s one necklace that I re­ally want to get, but I have no idea where it is. It’s Egyp­tian in style and dates from 1972, which was when the trea­sure of Tu­tankhamun first ex­hib­ited at the Bri­tish Mu­seum. It’s very Bul­gari – it’s got the cabo­chon, the colour, the coral, and it’s an amaz­ing piece. I’ve only seen a pho­to­graph, and I’d be so ex­cited if I came across it.

My love af­fair with jewellery goes back a long way. When I was four, I saw pho­to­graphs of the coro­na­tion of the Shah of Iran, with the crown and throne. And I was born a block from Bul­gari’s shop in Rome, near the Span­ish Steps. I re­mem­ber go­ing to Bul­gari with my grand­fa­ther; he had no one to give jewellery to be­cause my mother and grand­mother didn’t like jewels.

A com­pany can only turn to its past when it’s ma­ture. You have to reach a sub­stan­tial level of ma­tu­rity and so­lid­ity be­fore be­ing able to look back and in­vest in pre­serv­ing what has been done. This came with Bul­gari at the end of the 1990s. Bul­gari only had one shop, in Rome, till 1972, and five shops by the end of the 1970s, un­til a ma­jor ex­pan­sion in the 1990s. So it was a ques­tion of gath­er­ing all the in­for­ma­tion about this di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. Hope­fully, we have been able to struc­ture and pre­serve the Bul­gari ar­chives for the fu­ture.

(Op­po­site) A her­itage of fine jewellery (clock­wise from top): Trem­blant brooch in plat­inum with emer­alds and di­a­monds (1960); “Snake” bracelet-watch in gold with poly­chrome enamel and emer­alds (1967); Trom­bino ring in plat­inum with sap­phire and di­a­monds (1971); necklace in plat­inum with emer­alds and di­a­monds (1961); sautoir in gold with Byzan­tine gold coins and di­a­monds (1975)

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