Bulgari ’Masterpieces 1970-1990’ exhibition, London

Bulgari ’Masterpieces 1970-1990’ exhibition, London

There are many reasons to see the Bulgari Masterpieces exhibition, which opened today at the jeweller’s New Bond Street boutique in London. But for me, the standout one is that it covers just two decades - 1970 to 1990. Not only does this 20-year span depict a seminal period in high jewellery design, but also a time when the Roman jewellery house was at the forefront of it. And this brilliantly poppy display of rare design studio drawings and heritage jewels shows why.

Take, the ’Parentesi’ collection - a line that Bulgari continues to develop and which is a stylised form of the architectural tick taken from the stone mosaics used to pave the junctions of Roman roads and walkways. The motif also mimics parentheses - brackets signs - hence the title. While the strong graphic confines of these lines created a new classic high jewellery aesthetic, subsequent creations saw Bulgari throw its trademark opulent precious beads and diamonds into the mix, whipping up a powerful mid-century opulence in the process.

Of course, Bulgari is forever associated in the public consciousness with Elizabeth Taylor but everyone from Veruschka to Jessica Lange and Diana Vreeland appropriated the Bulgari look during the 1970s and 1980s - and the brand’s various style advocates are represented on walls, in film and in other forms at different points in the show.

Another pull is the fact that the exhibition production, complete with wall projector, giant digital interactive history book and massive ring box display, which takes over the entire top floor of the building, is so well considered that it makes the boutique feel like a bijoux metropolitan museum.

The overall effect of Masterpieces is both arty and cosy, making it a delight just to step out of the chilly London Spring and into the exuberant delights of such era-defining Mediterranean high glamour.

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