Italian jewellery is a time-honoured tradition that dates back thousands of years. Characterised by colour, extravagance and size, it continues to dazzle on the red carpet.
At the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 24th annual Oscars dinner in Los Angeles, actress Hilary Swank surprised guests by donating her magnificent Bulgari Serpenti ring to raise money for the fight against AIDS. Diners were also able to treat themselves to one of several pieces offered up by the famous Italian jewellery designer, a new partner of the Foundation. No wonder the auction fetched a record total of $6.23 million!
Setting their sights on Hollywood
In Italy, artisans have been working with gold and precious stones for more than three millennia. The Etruscans made jewellery that was strikingly modern. The skilled craftsmen of Greco-Roman antiquity and the Renaissance continued this tradition. More recently, Italian jewellers have conquered Hollywood – and for good reason! With their high-octane colours, sensual designs and daring proportions, the pieces are the perfect match for the cascading silk couture gowns worn by
Hollywood A-listers. Since 1884, Bulgari has illustrated the family sagas that have marked the history of Italian jewellery. In her book My Love Affair with Jewelry, Elizabeth Taylor wrote “...one of the biggest advantages to working on Cleopatra in Rome was Bulgari’s nice little shop. I used to visit Gianni Bulgari in the afternoons...”.
Part of a long line of goldsmiths, Sotirio Bulgari quickly developed an international clientele by opening shops in tourist resorts. His sons took up a new challenge: to invent the Bulgari style by moving away from French design to blend elements of Greco-Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance and the 19th-century Roman school of jewellery. The brand was subsequently acquired by LVMH and continues to adorn the biggest stars. Launched in 1976, Pasquale Bruni is another family business whose jewellery sparkles at the most glamorous parties. His irresistible new collection, Giardini Segreti (Secret Gardens), pays tribute to the courtyard gardens of Milan and is based on floral motifs, while the Lady Taj line features cocktail rings set with gleaming sapphires, topazes, carnelians and agates. Damiani and Repossi are also family businesses whose jewellery has a worldwide following. Founded in the 1920s, they experienced a meteoric rise thanks to innovative designers capable of showcasing outstanding stones in bold settings. Damiani was chosen by Brad Pitt to design Angelina Jolie’s engagement ring, while Repossi is a favourite of Hollywood ‘it’ girls such as Emma Watson, Keira Knightley and Emma Stone.
Having won over the elite set, Repossi is all the rage with today’s gilded youth. How? Thanks to Gaia Repossi, heiress to the empire, granddaughter of the brand’s founder and now its artistic director. LVMH recently took a stake in the company to accelerate its growth. The latest collection, Agrafe, looks as good with a casual chic outfit as it does with an evening dress. This is the secret of Italian jewellery: contradiction. The more exuberant it is, the easier it is to wear! Alongside its collections of fine jewellery, Bulgari has added diffusion lines such as Tubogas, XL and B.Zero1. Pomellato, meanwhile, has been making ‘ready-to-wear’ jewellery since 1967. Its ethos? To design pieces that reflect the current trends. It also innovates by creating whimsical jewellery such as the Nudo rings, which women wear two or three at a time in a radiant mix of colours. Available in a myriad of versions, this bestseller is always in demand. Bellissima!