Bvlgari History and Facts

Now that we’ve covered the main jewelry eras and precious gemstones, it’s time for us to dive into famous, world-recognized jewelry designers. Signed jewelry has always been desirable due to its credibility, top quality materials, and exquisite craftsmanship. The industry's famous jewelry names include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Bvlgari, David Webb, Boucheron, Graff, Buccellati, and many others. This week we will be discussing the house of iconic serpents - BVLGARI

In this blog post you will learn: 

  • BVLGARI History
  • Interesting Facts 
  • Vintage BVLGARI Jewelry 
  • Modern BVLGARI Jewelry

Bvlgari History

The iconic jewelry house was founded in 1884 by a talented Greek silversmith Constantine Sotirios Boulgaris (1859-1932), his name was later Italianised to Sotirio Bulgari. He began his jewelry career at Epirus in Greece, then moved to Naples and eventually to Rome in 1881. After 3 years in Rome, Sotirio Bulgari opened his first Italian store in Via Sistini, which in 1905 was replaced by a flagship store in Via Dei Condotti, which still exists today! 

vintage bulgari jewelry

Interesting Facts

You will often see the Bulgari signature to be spelled as BVLGARI - with a V rather than a U, which is a reference to the classical Italian alphabet. Bvlgari originally specialized in luxury jewelry that featured rare, outstanding colored stones. They were the first jewelry designer to focus on colored stones, thus establishing themselves as ‘masters of colored gemstones’

The early Bvlgari fine jewelry creations were inspired by traditional French jewelry craftsmanship. They reflected the modern style of the time (known today as Art Deco) incorporating platinum, geometric shapes, diamonds, and filigree metalwork.

During the 1930s in Rome, the house of Bvlgari became internationally famous. Bvlgari designed a diamond tiara for the wedding of Prince Umberto of Italy and Princess Marie José of Belgium. The list of celebrity clients included American magnates Robert Lehman and Frank Jay Gould, among many other famous personas and fashionistas of the time.

elizabeth taylor jewelry
Bulgari Trombino Ring

Bulgari Trombino Ring

The Trombino “little trumpet” in Italian is one of Bvlgari’s most successful and long-lasting designs. This ring became instantly popular in the 1930s because it allowed the gemstone to stand proud. Moreover, the ring itself was substantial and dazzled with pavé-set diamonds that graduated to a horizontal line of baguette-cut diamonds.

The ring on the left is the one we currently have for sale! Click on the image to learn more about this Little Trumpet! 

vintage bulgari jewelry

Vintage BVLGARI Jewelry 

Starting in the 1940s Retro period the iconic, world-recognized Italian Bvlgari style started to emerge. It’s known to feature sunny yellow gold and the sinuous coils of the Serpenti creations. 

Bvlgari had a major international breakthrough in the 1960s. Sophia Loren was photographed wearing a show-stopping Bulgari diamond necklace at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival. Gina Lollobrigida wore Bulgari’s emerald and diamond jewelry at the premiere of The Sound of Music in 1965, and Princess Salimah Aga Khan became a regular client. Later, her private collection was sold at Christie’s Auction in 1995 in Geneva, which featured 18 lots by Bulgari.

With the rise of the Dolce Vita era, the flagship store on Via Condotti became the favorite meeting place for fashionistas, movie stars, and other socialites. They were the 1960s “influencers”, therefore amplifying the international fame of the brand. In the 1970s, the third generation of the Bulgari family introduced a new creative boost with liberated inspirations, ranging from Pop Art to the Far East, catering to the tastes of modern and unrestrained women.
bulgari serpenti

The Iconic Bulgari Serpenti Bracelet-Watch 

Ancient cultures around the world worshiped serpents and assigned various symbolic meanings. In some cultures snakes were a symbol of fertility and seductiveness, in others, they represented strength, medicine, and eternity. In ancient Greece, snakes were considered guardians of birth and regeneration because of the way they shed their skin. The first Serpenti models were produced in the 1960s and made in solid yellow gold with diamond eyes, heads, and tails. The iconic Bulgari Serpenti bracelet-watch was worn by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.

In the 80s and 90s Bulgari continued to design unconventional pieces that were meant to be worn from morning until night; like a second skin. Modular jewelry was the answer for any woman’s need: a single, practical element with a strong design, adorned with a wide range of precious stones, from hematite to coral to diamond pave.

Check out these Vintage Bvlgari pieces from our collection that we currently have for sale: 

Bulgari Parentesi Collection - Modular, Everyday Wear Jewelry

bulgari parentesi collection

The '80s were known for bold and gold, easy-to-wear jewelry. People desired stylish, yet affordable pieces. The Parentesi, aka “brackets” or “parenthesis” - fulfilled all these requirements: it was bold, distinctive, and could be as formal or informal as required.

The original Parentesi design consisted of 3 distinct elements - one shaped like an hourglass, one formed as brackets, and another to fit into the cavity of the bracket. This jewelry could be adapted to different sizes simply by removing one or more elements.

Modern BVLGARI Jewelry

signed vintage jewelry

With international recognition and popularity, Bulgari opened locations around the world.

The largest Bvlgari store is the 10-story Bvlgari Ginza Tower in Tokyo with a space of 940 square meters.

Nowadays Bulgari constantly updates its rich history with new, exquisite, often serpent-inspired creations. With the rise of the internet and technological development, unfortunately, plagiarism and fraud have become more possible and harder to detect. We advise you to be careful when buying popular signed jewelry. Check the signature, the serial number, the paperwork if applicable, and only buy from credible sources like a Bvlgari store or reputable estate jewelry companies, like Jack Weir & Sons.

The Bottom Line

Favored by iconic figures like Elizabeth Taylor, Zendaya, and Lily Aldridge, Bulgari has established themselves as a pillar of the jewelry world. Bold, creative, and practical, Bvlgari will always be at the heart of the jewelry world. 

We are happy to carry rare, vintage Bvlgari jewelry pieces in our collection and help you find the jewel of your dreams! 

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