Many jewelry experts are familiar with the work of Bulgari, or BVLGARI in its original Latin. The gemstone jewelry and its set of different colors instantly make them stand out even among other major jewelers. However, one thing that not everyone is as familiar with is the history that led Bulgari from its humble beginnings to its current status. In many ways, it makes you appreciate the end product even more.
Bulgari started with Sotirio Voulgaris, who was born in 1857 in Northern Greece, from a region famous for silversmithing. Vougaris’s family were also part of the silversmithing tradition, using techniques dating back to the Byzantine era. He would later move to the Greek island of Corfu and Naples before setting roots in Rome in 1884. While working on getting this business to grow, Voulgaris changed his name to Bulgari, the phonetic version of his last name, which would also be the name for his company. Voulgaris opened his flagship shop with his sons, Constantino and Giorgio. Together, the store quickly garnered a reputation for well-crafted luxury jewelry which was inspired by Greek and Roman concepts.
When Voulgaris passed away in 1932, Constantino and Giorgio made some sweeping changes that introduced some of the iconic elements we associate with Bulgari today. For example, they redesigned the store interiors to better match with the wealthy air they had created around their brand. They also established the BVLGARI logo. After World War II, Bulgari zeroed in on platinum jewelry, encrusted with precious stones, and Italian nobles and wealthy foreigners alike came in to make purchases. Bulgari also began to break from the common French trends, starting to use large, colorful, unfaceted gemstones to create stunning pieces.
Giorgio’s three sons would make for the third generation of Voulgaris brothers and took the brand international, while also venturing into the watch market. Celebrities like Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor would end up being fans of the jewelry, raising the brand even further. In the 1980s and forward, Bulgari would end up expanding even further to try and break out of a stagnant period. This included adding some new everyday jewelry designs, as well as branching into perfume, neckties, sunglasses, leather goods, and scarves. In the early 2000s, Bulgari Hotels and Resorts even launched, a venture with the hotelier Luxury Group.
Bulgari is one of the hallmarks of Italian jewelry, and with such a rich history and reputation for quality, it’s easy to see why so many people would want to try and add some of these works to their own. So, it may be a good idea to see what is selling at auction in Fort Lauderdale. There may be a Bulgari piece available to call your own.