In the present day, Bulgari’s signature style has been one which references its iconic designs of the 1970s and 1980s, a time when this Roman jewellery dazzled the world with voluptuous offerings; bold, colourful and playful. Through this flamboyant style, it earned its mantle as the Master of Colour, utilising coloured gemstones to best effect in scarcely believable jewellery concoctions. In more recent times, its Color Journeys capsule collection has zeroed in on the gems which have contributed to its legend, by spotlighting the universe which exists within each and every coloured gemstone. The first to be featured – in 2020 – was the Paraiba tourmaline, sourced from the famous mines of Brazil and Mozambique. And now, for its follow up in 2022, the spinel enters the stage – a shimmering mystery unearthed from the heart of Tajikistan.
This unique gem’s earliest mention in western literature originates from the diary of late 13th-century Venetian merchant and explorer Marco Polo. He waxed lyrical about the gems which held a unique shade of red, incorporating pink and purple hues sourced from Badakshan, a province in Northern Afghanistan and known today as Tajikistan. What is most unique is that these gems presented themselves with vibrant, saturated hues, offering its fiery colour without needing the coaxing of heat or irradiation. As such, almost all spinels in existence today are untreated. These spinels occur in variety of hues; pastel blue and deep crimson, as well as pink, purple and grey and have featured on some of the earliest pieces on the British Crown Jewels.
In Bulgari’s ongoing Color Journeys story, the spinel’s use remembers one of the jeweller’s masterpieces – the high jewellery Imperial Spinel Necklace – set with a 132.21-carat spinel found in Tajikistan – the fourth largest recorded spinel in history.
This year, Bulgari proposes a capsule collection under Color Journeys, offering 20 one-of-a-kind pieces high jewellery pieces, a unique Serpenti bag and two high jewellery timepieces. All the aforementioned pieces offer masterful placements of the spinel, flaunting its nuances through the sensual Roman flair and through an adroit combination with other similarly opulent gemstones that is undeniably Bulgari.
Among the stars of the show is a duo of necklaces which contrast purple- and pink-toned spinels with the aquamarine Paraiba, while diamonds flash throughout. These necklaces are also paired to matching earrings and a ring. In another rendition, pink-hued spinels are matched to regal emeralds, offering a sense of volume and play of light. Rare marquise-cut rubies from Tanzania join the fray, with 10 (totalling 30 carats) featuring on a platinum necklace. And a quartet of oval buff-top spinels – matched exactly on colour point, are integrated into four cocktail rings which are differentiated by a combination of amethysts, aquamarines, pink tourmaline, black onyx and mother-of-pearl.
These gem-cutting and setting techniques, honed across 138 years since the maison’s founding, are also expressed in yet another ring, the Raggio di Luce high jewellery offering which recalls the golden light of Italian artist and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini from Italy’s baroque period. The ring is envisioned as a Baroque statue, a three-dimensional highlight with light emanating from the central star gem – a 5.02-carat yellow diamond which evokes all the hues of gold from pale yellow to warm orange.