How does your garden grow? When it comes to Bulgari’s new high jewellery collection, the answer is prolifically and spectacularly. MOJEH meets the House’s jet-setting design doyenne Lucia Silvestri to take a walk through the marvellous scenery of Eden, The Garden of Wonders
It’s different from seeing the jewels in pictures — it’s much better in person,” says Lucia Silvestri, the renowned jewellery creative director at Bulgari, as we prepare to sit down and talk in depth about the House’s verdant new collection of high jewellery. “You have to touch them, try them, feel the energy of the stone. It’s something personal, so it’s a real relationship between the gems and the person.”
Of course, it’s a privilege for anyone to touch, try and feel an item of haute joaillerie. But for Silvestri, that relationship is deep and intimate. These jewels are her passion and her life — from searching for the most vividly-coloured gems in Jaipur and Geneva, to absorbing the energy and colours of her beloved Puglia for inspiration, to settling down in her office in Rome to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, she lives and breathes the beauty of the mesmerising stones that take centre stage in her art.
Silvestri’s latest flying visit is a very special stop in Paris, the culmination of thousands of hours of work — both from her and the Bulgari artisans — to present Eden, The Garden of Wonders. The wide-ranging collection consists of a mind- boggling 140 pieces and references nature at its grandest, with vivid emeralds featuring prominently. With the dazzling launch event taking place at the Italian Embassy in the French capital, it was a fitting place for Roman style and Parisian decadence to meet.
MOJEH: There are many magnificent stones in this collection. Have any been sourced from Bulgari’s archives?
LUCIA SILVESTRI: They are all new gems. Some designs are inspired by the archives but, like [Bulgari’s Chairman and grandson of the House’s founder] Mr Paolo Bulgari says, an eye to the past and an eye to the future. We get inspiration from our archives but in a contemporary way. Society is changing and the world is changing, so we need to maintain our spirit, the Bulgari spirit, in a contemporary way.
M: How is harmony maintained within a piece featuring multiple coloured gemstones?
LS: Harmony, for me, is a key word. It’s really my expertise, my job, to maintain the brand DNA while trying new combinations of colours, all in harmony. Mr Bulgari always says don’t be shy and to try new combinations, but always with harmony. How? With experience. The legacy from the family, and the teamwork that comes from having worked together for so many years. We work with passion, with love and with feeling.
M: How is the collection representative of Bulgari’s DNA?
LS: We have the Bulgari spirit in this collection through the gems, the design and through our iconic motifs from the Serpenti and Diva’s Dream collections. This maintains the DNA of the brand.
M: The Jubilee Emerald Garden two-in-one tiara and necklace is a true one-off. What made Bulgari choose to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee with this particular piece? Why a tiara and why emeralds?
LS: I found an emerald that was so special, that I thought was very right for a tiara. It was engraved with a flower so I thought this could be something for Eden, and that it would make a beautiful centre stone for a tiara, but it could also be for a necklace too. Then I pictured the round marquise-cut diamonds with a touch of onyx, which is modern and different for a tiara, and that’s how the story began!
M: Why have you chosen this collection, and 2022 in particular, to amplify your affinity with the emerald?
LS: Because in the past four to five years we have collected the best emeralds in the world. We had to be patient, because when you find a special stone you risk wanting to use it immediately. But we said no, we have to wait, which is very hard! Then last year we decided that it’s the moment for Eden, The Garden of Wonders to use and create something special with those emeralds.
M: I see a lot of mention of the Colombian emerald rather than Zambian. What draws you to the Colombian emerald in particular?
LS: Colombian emeralds are somehow more popular and bigger than Zambian. Their colour has a touch of yellow inside that is very open and happy, but Zambian emeralds are also very beautiful, I love the country they come from and we prefer to use those emeralds for beads, drops and cabochons, to put that little bluish tint they hold inside to good use. They’re beautiful.
M: The Flowers of Eden piece in particular caught my eye. Can you talk us through your design process? Why did you choose silver leaves for the main focus of the necklace, rather than gemstones?
LS: It’s not silver, it’s mother of pearl! Sometimes seeing a picture is very different from the reality. This was the first piece that we created for the collection and it’s full of energy. I started by laying the gems out on my table, playing with them, singing and listening to music. But then I felt like there was something missing, so I went to the designers and we talked about creating a design for the centre, simple flowers without too much volume, flat and in harmony with the carpet of stones. It’s like a second skin, geometric but very natural and not too heavy either.
M: Where did you find the inspiration for a whopping 140 pieces? And how did you know when to stop?
LS: In the end, 140 pieces was enough! We started from the gems, of course, and the idea of working around nature and colour. For me, it’s something magical that became natural.
M: Do you draw inspirations from somewhere? Do you go to any particular place?
LS: Rome is very important. There are so many beautiful gardens, secret gardens in Rome that I could visit with my team. I’m inspired by places all around the world, but I have to say that Rome is our real garden of wonders.
- Words by Rachel Silvestri