Bulgari welcomes BAFTA 2024 with a London show of its era-spanning film-star jewellery

For BAFTA 2024, Bulgari spotlights its rich cinematic connections in a jewellery exhibition at its Bond Street store

Gina Lollobrigida, 1980, wears jewellery. Archive image illustrating Bulgari's BAFTA 2024 show
Actor Gina Lollobrigida wearing her Bulgari Serpenti watch at a party in Gstaad, 1980
(Image credit: Courtesy, Bulgari (Armando Pietrangeli/Rex Features/Shutterstock))

The BAFTA 2024 ceremony takes place in London this Sunday 18 February. To celebrate, Bulgari, the event’s official watch and jewellery partner, is displaying a cache of its heritage pieces, some of the most legendary jewels in film history, at its Bond Street boutique. Gislain Aucremanne, heritage curator at the jewellery house, tells us of the stories and screen stars behind these dazzling designs.

Bulgari’s cinematic past on show for BAFTA 2024

The David di Donatello Award

Film award statue

The David di Donatello is the most coveted award in Italian cinema, designed by Bulgari in 1956

(Image credit: Bulgari)

In 1956, Bulgari was asked to design the trophy for Italy’s Academy of Italian Cinema Awards (AICA), the David di Donatello. The recipient of its first edition was Gina Lollobridiga (pictured top), who took the Best Actress gong for her performance as the peasant-girl-turned-opera-diva in Robert Z Leonard's 1955 film, Beautiful but Dangerous. 'The design is a miniaturised reproduction of Donatello's David sculpture, now preserved in Florence,' Aucremanne says. 'The original artwork was finished in gold and so is this. Bulgari mounted the figure on a block of beautiful green malachite, which suits his stance, that says: "You may be a little person but in the end you can be victorious and do great things". So there's a beautiful message there, too. I like its journey from ancient fine-art sculpture to a symbol of the art of cinema today.'

Elizabeth Taylor's break-up jewel

Bulgari hair jewel

‘There are many images of Elizabeth Taylor wearing this, sometimes as a brooch on the lapel, and also worn in her hair.’

(Image credit: Bulgari)

‘This jewel is beautiful in daytime in natural light and amazing at night, shimmering as if with electrical light,’ says Aucremanne. ‘There are many images of Elizabeth Taylor wearing this, sometimes as a brooch on the lapel, and also worn in her hair. It was a gift from her husband at the time, Eddie Fisher, and most probably the last he gave her. It was 1962 and Taylor was filming Cleopatra in Rome. Her affair with Richard Burton just went public, and legend has it that Fisher sent Taylor the invoice for the piece. I'm not sure it's an elegant thing to send a bill, but I think he was furious at the time. Some of the bigger flowers in the spray are entremble, which means they trembled and shimmered, catching the light as she moved (they are set on little springs). It's an absolutely gorgeous piece and it particularly reflects Taylor's tastes.’

Anna Magnani's diamond bombe

Diamond ring

'This ring is very bombe, voluminous and curvy, and Anna Magnani loved to wear it on her pinky'

(Image credit: Bulgari)

'In Italy, and Rome in particular, Anna Magnani was a huge star and the Italian public loved her. They felt very close to Ms Magnani, as they related to the gritty roles she played, and would call out nicknames to her in the streets, as if she was a character they knew. She was a nice person, a strong personality, and she loved coming to Bulgari to select her jewels,' says Aucremanne.

'Anna Magnani's taste is very much reflected in this ring, which is very bombe, voluminous and curvy, and she loved to wear it on her pinky. She had a very strong attitude to the way she wore her jewels. Here, you have a beautiful circle of diamonds, with the baguettes giving a sense of geometry, an industrial touch, even. '

Elizabeth Taylor's ‘Boom’ Necklace-cum-bracelet

diamond bracelets

'This necklace is detachable, so can also be worn as two bracelets, which Elizabeth Taylor did in Boom'

(Image credit: Bulgari)

'This necklace was selected by Elizabeth Taylor for her role in Joseph Losey's 1968 film Boom,’ says Aucremanne. It’s detachable, so can be worn as two bracelets. And that’s how she wore it in the movie. Here, you really have a sense of volume, which is very true to the Bulgari style. There’s also a strong rhythm between the randomness of the motifs, the proportions, the symmetry, geometry, all of which are synonymous with the house.'

Anna Magnani's architectural black-pearl brooch

diamond and pearl brooch

'This pearl brooch has a geometric boldness and volume'

(Image credit: Bulgari)

'Ms Magnani's pearl brooch has a geometric boldness and volume, and what makes it compelling is the opposing architectural elements created by the different-cut stones, namely the baguette-cut and the round. That the stones are set on different levels and directions gives an almost hypnotic draw. When worn under film lights, this pearl brooch would have created interesting light reflections around the actor, both from the brilliant white stones and sheeny black pearl.'

Gina Lollabrigida and Claudia Cardinale’s kaleidoscopic gems

gem set necklace and earrings

'The diamonds are mixed with coloured gemstones in a design that could have looked very chaotic but yet has a strong sense of order'

(Image credit: Bulgari)

'This set is from the late 1950s, and now we really see the colour, what we term the Italian School of jewellery, moving away from mainly white stones to something more Italian,’ says Aucremanne. ‘The diamonds are mixed with coloured gemstones in a design that could have looked very chaotic, yet has a strong sense of order. Everything you see on the left is mirroring what you have on the right, which sounds easy, but it's not. Look at the earrings – the blue stones on the left of one earring [and repeated on the right of the other]. I think these things make everything more Bulgari, you know, along with the raised rounded, or cabochon, stones.'

Jennifer Aniston and Mila Jovovich’s 1930s showstopper

Diamond necklace 1930

(Image credit: Bulgari)

'This is a 1930s piece. You could call it art deco, but it's Roman art deco. The dimension of the circular diamonds is very important. The way they alternate with rectangular, large baguette-cut diamonds and the gradation of the motifs from big to smaller has a rhythm all its own. [The necklace] has been worn by stars including Claudia Cardinale, Jessica Chastain, Mila Jovovich and Jennifer Aniston. Working with platinum is incredible work, and the craftsmen who can do this are what we term as mani intelligente, intelligent hands. It's a 1930s necklace yet it's been worn over so many eras, and I think that is the definition of a timeless piece.’

The jewellery will be on display at Bulgari’s Bond Street store, London, until 20 February 2024, bulgari.com

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.