The roman aesthetic sense
Bulgari is an Italian luxury brand known for its jewellery, watches, fragrances, accessories and leather goods. Currently part of the LVMH Group, Bulgari was founded in the region of Epirus, Greece, in 1884 by the silversmith Sotirios Boulgaris.
Splendid precious stones, exceptional know-how, modern and dynamic creations is inspired by the Roman aesthetic sense of Bulgari.
The Voulgaris were a silversmithing family from the Epirus region of Greece. Whether or not the Voulgaris family of Corfu and the Voulgaris family of the Italian jewelers Bulgari from Epirus share the same paternal line is unclear, but the count Stefanos Voulgaris denied that the Bulgari family of the Italian jewelers family is genealogically related to the Voulgaris family of Corfu.
According to chronicles of the Voulgaris family written in Venetian Corfu, the “Voulgaris family of Saint Spyridon of Corfu” descend from the royal figures of “barbarian” peoples, as Greeks used to call everybody who is not Christianized, from the Volga river, who “finally settled in Moesia near the Balkan – Haemus mountains, located in Bulgaria”, so the founding father of this family was described as a descendant of Prince Stefan Lazarević in the 16th century testament of the family, becoming such by taking refugee in the Venetian island Corfu.
The founder of the Bulgari brand is Sotirios Voulgaris, who was born in March 1857 and came from the Epirus Village in the Balkans.
In its early years, Bulgari was known for silver pieces that borrowed elements from Byzantine and Islamic art, combining them with floral motifs. At the time, Paris was the apex of fashion and creativity, and its trends influenced Sotirio’s designs for decades: jewels of the early 20s were characterised by platinum Art Deco settings while those of the 30s featured geometric diamond motifs—sometimes set in combination with coloured gemstones. Convertible jewels were also popular during the time, and one of Bulgari’s major piece was the Trombino, a small trumpet-shaped ring.
During the Second World War, most new jewellery was crafted out of gold, as gems were scarce, and designs became more natural feeling. As the 1940s came to a close, Bulgari introduced Serpenti bracelet-watches.
The year 2000 was the beginning of an increasingly aggressive period of verticalization for Bulgari, with the acquisition of the luxury watchmaking brands Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta, followed by the takeover of the jewelry firm Crova and of other companies that specialized in leather goods and watchmaking. The opening of the first Bulgari Hotel in Milan in 2004 further confirmed the expansion strategy of the brand, and was the result of a joint venture with Luxury Group, a division of Marriott International.
In 2009, the snake—a motif that appeared in Bulgari collections from the 1960s—re-emerged as the emblem of the Serpenti collection.
In 2011, Bulgari signed a strategic alliance with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s leading luxury group. Then an acquisition was concluded on 2011. The takeover doubled the size of LVMH’s watches and jewelry unit, which at the time of the acquisition included Tag Heuer timepieces and De Beers diamond necklaces.
In 2014, Bulgari celebrated the 130th anniversary of the brand. To mark the occasion, the shop at Via Condotti 10 was “reimagined” by the architect Peter Marino, and reopened. On the same day, the brand donated €1.5 million to the city of Rome for the restoration of the Spanish Steps. A few months after the Grand Opening, the DOMVS was inaugurated in the redesigned Bulgari boutique, creating a gallery space to house of Bulgari’s Heritage Collection.
In 2017, Bulgari opened a new jewelry manufacturing headquarters in Valenza. The largest in Europe, the Manufacture has been given a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification for sustainability in its design.