Bulgari began honing its creative connection to New York in 1971, opening its first New York outpost at the Pierre Hotel. By 1972, it was so smitten by the city’s creative energy that it designed a celebratory ‘Stars and Stripes’ collection. A riot of red and blue stone designs, it was created to commemorate the United States Bicentennial.
Now, to mark the re-opening of its flagship store on Fifth Avenue – reimagined by Peter Marino – it pays homage to the city that never sleeps with a celebratory site-specific jewellery collection. Sparkling with humorous riffs on classic American symbols, it celebrates the spirit of Pop Art, Studio 54 and the geometric splendour of the city's skyline. The graffiti-strewn streets of 1970s Manhattan are also a key influence in the designs.
Bulgari’s bright, bold take on traditional diamond fine jewellery combinations emerged in the late fifties, during Italy’s design-boom years. They upped the glamour factor, adding sizeable, colourful sapphires and emeralds to big-volume forms, such as giant-link gold chains. That approach still resonates today, as the new collection proves. While bold colours, strong lines, twinkling star motifs and even a graffiti-art inspired Bulgari logo speak of a seventies-era Manhattan, the collection also reflects a transatlantic exchange of creativity between Italy and America.
The house’s signature styles, including the ‘Serpenti’ bracelet (a favourite of New York-based editor Diana Vreeland) has been given a stars and stripes makeover. The American Flag also informs a cascading necklace of tanzanite, rubelite and diamonds. A cocktail ring is set with diamond stars and coloured gemstones, and in an abstract interpretation of the Star-Spangled Banner, a thick bracelet is formed from concentric circles of pavé diamonds, lapis and coral. The Roman coin ‘Monete’ designs have been crafted using not only antique Roman and Greek coins, but American money too.
Nicola Bulgari took the helm of Bulgari with his brothers Gianni and Paolo in the sixties. After visiting New York in the 1970s, he split his time between New York and Rome for more than forty years. This collection flies the flag for both his birthplace and his adopted home from home.