Bulgari’s Architectural Heritage
Where to find hidden gems of homage in the jeweller’s famed designs
The ancient Romans were master architects. They perfected the arch, the amphitheater, and the aqueduct. Design reigned supreme alongside Caesar in the eternal city.
The grandeur of that era still lives today, not just in the ruins of Europe, but in the living artistic traditions that continue to adorn beautiful cities and the people who live in them today.
Haute jewellery house Bulgari is one of those Roman torch-bearers, carrying on a tradition of style, craftsmanship, and divine geometry with roots that go back 2,000 years. From a ring inspired by the grandeur of Rome’s colosseum to the Latin lettering of the brand’s logo that invokes ancient stone inscriptions, Bulgari brings the Roman architectural spirit into its bold, intricate designs.
Founded in 1884 by a brilliant silversmith named Sotirio Bulgari, it didn’t take long for the young jeweller to become popular. In 1905, Bulgari opened its flagship store on the Via Condotti, a street that begins at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. The company headquarters remain there to this day.
By the 1950s, its bold designs made Bulgari synonymous with glamour, and the store became a meeting point for Hollywood stars and socialites. Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergman helped to popularize the brand in the United States by frequently wearing the bright gem-laden necklaces that have become a hallmark of the company.
In fact, even in its more contemporary designs, you can still see Roman roots in the cut of the bright gemstones that came to define Bulgari’s high jewellery. The classic cabochon, for example, recalls the cupolas of Roman landscapes—the small structures that crown domes and rooftops.
Architecturally inspired highlights of recent years include the renowned four-band ring named B.zero1, from the Tubogas collection, which echoes the strong lines of the ancient colosseum with spiraled levels and the Latin alphabet logo on each side.
The fan shape of the Divas’ Dream collection was inspired by the mosaics of the Baths of Caracalla, with a diamond solitaire, mother of pearl, and channel-set diamonds, all in 18k rose gold.
Bulgari’s Emerald Affair Necklace, from its recent Cinemagia collection, invokes the geometrical beauty of the recessed ceilings of the Pantheon, which remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The recessions create a web of engineered support that allowed the ancient architects to break the barriers of gravity itself—and the secret to their success was an understanding that geometrical and mathematical perfection were the recipe for beauty as well as strength.
The diamond arrangement recalls the graduated squares of the dome, with the centre emerald crowning the design. This stunning necklace features a pendant with a 24ct octagonal step-cut emerald surrounded by diamonds and emeralds in yellow gold.
In addition to keeping the architectural spirit of Rome alive through its designs, the company also works to restore and protect the monuments and remnants of its heritage, including the 1.5M euros the company spent to clean and restore the Spanish Steps. Like a gem in one of its draping pendants, Bulgari shines as a citizen of history, protecting the past and designing the present.