“The first consideration that we had was the snake,” Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani, Bulgari’s executive director of product creation, told Robb Report of the company’s new Garden of Eden-themed high jewellery collection. “But at a certain moment, you say, ‘Again, another snake?’” So, how did he reimagine, once more, the brand’s instantly recognisable Serpenti, which has been its reoccurring theme for over 80 years? The big idea, he says, was to hide the snake under lush florals and petals in a lighthearted play on Eden’s most sinister creature. The undeniable highlight is the Giardino Dell’Eden Tourbillon high jewellery watch, a piece that took 4,400 hours of work. The ultimate display of Italian opulence, it features a cuff with a detachable brooch evoking a Mediterranean garden lush with flowers, two trembling butterflies and rich foliage concealing the Serpenti-shaped watch case, decorated with emerald and diamonds beneath. In total, there are 6,500 stones totaling 223 carats ranging from cabochon Paraiba, emerald and garnets to pink tourmalines, opals, rubies, multicolour sapphires and diamonds. Buonamassa Stigliani describes it as, “the most difficult piece we have ever made.” It required the dedicated work of five artisans and was roughly two years in the making. “We are very happy that it’s over,” he says with a laugh. “It was really, really tough. Just setting the stones, finding the right stones, the degradé… We changed the degradé and the colours on the flowers two times.”
The piece was shown to press and clients during a presentation in Paris over the weekend and by the time Buonamassa Stigliani had finished showing Robb Report the piece, it had already been purchased by a client. Parting with such a masterpiece is hardly easy after so many hours of painstaking work, but Buonamassa Stigliani says that if it hadn’t been sold, its historical importance as a piece representative of the heights to which Bulgari’s craftsmanship has risen already reserved it a spot in Bulgari’s museum. Not to mention, the company has plans to put it forward for the Grand Prix de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva (a.k.a. the Oscars of watchmaking). Parting was sweet sorrow, but Buonamassa Stigliani says the team is “happy because we know this client very well, and we know that it’s the right lady in terms of elegance and the way to wear it.”
While this piece is unique, Buonamassa Stigliani says that others will likely be made. “For sure we are going to have other requests and we are going to make them,” he says. “The clients have already asked. We will make the same watch but with completely different colours and completely different in terms of the combination of flowers and petals. But to have another piece with this kind of amazing work, a client would have to wait 12 to 14 months, starting today.” Notably, the piece can also be modified to different wrist sizes thanks to the frame architecture beneath the jewels that can be adjusted. However, the volume of the garden design will remain the same.
It wasn’t the only showstopper in the collection, which consists of over 140 unique pieces, more than 30 of which were dedicated to emeralds. The undeniable stunner among that lot is the Emerald Glory choker, which can also be worn as a necklace or tiara, decked with 11 pear-shaped Colombian emeralds surrounded by over 220 carats of diamonds that required over 3,000 hours of handwork.
At a runway show held at the Italian Embassy in Paris, French supermodel, actress and former First Lady, Carla Bruni, did justice to a necklace anchored by a 35.53-carat oval-shaped Colombian emerald surrounded by smaller emeralds and diamonds in the shape of tiny Tour Eiffels, appropriately dubbed the Tribute to Paris. American actress Julianne Moore also wore the necklace recently on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival.
Meanwhile, other precious stones carried significant weight. Take, for example, a 61.30-carat Sri Lankan sapphire that served as the centerpiece on the Serpenti Ocean Treasure where it drops from two interlocking platinum and diamond snakes that meld into one or a 25.70-carat pink spinel from Tajikistan which is enveloped by a pink gold and diamond serpent in the Serpenti Spinel Embrace necklace.
Or how about a 107.15-carat Sri Lankan Sapphire? The stone takes centre stage in the platinum Mediterranean Reverie necklace surrounded by baguette-cut sapphires and pear-cut, brilliant and pavé diamonds. Bulgari seems to have been amassing a collection of serious stones to wow its clients in what appears to be a confident outlook on the jewellery market in 2022.
“The last two years of the pandemic has given us a great inspiration of creativity,” Mauro di Roberto, Bulgari’s jewellery director told Robb Report. “It’s amazing how the creativity has become even more fluid. I guess it’s because we are tired of living a confined type of life. I think we are searching for a better way of living.”
Bulgari’s way of living is certainly for the rarefied few, but those who can get their hands on a piece of this “Garden of Eden” paradise are unlikely to be able to resist the temptation.
Previously published on Robb Report.