Bulgari might be synonymous with precious high jewellery and highly mechanical timepieces around the world, but its no secret that its biggest muse is back home in the Mediterranean. Home to a plethora of arts, traditions, and crafts, Rome – as well as the region that surrounds it – is, after all, a rich tapestry of ideas and creativity that have accumulated over time and space.
Today, the Mediterranean Sea and all that lies around it continues to breathe life and beauty into Bulgari, and the Mediterranea collection was born. Spanning high jewellery and timepieces, the collection is an exercise in exceptional craftsmanship and visionary creativity, bringing together influences from the region over the centuries through four distinct universes – Southern Radiance, Roman Splendor, East Meets West, and the Serpenti line.
Here, we take you through one of the world’s most fascinating regions with Bulgari, and how the cultures, lifestyles, and architecture there have influenced some of the brand’s most stunning creations.
Southern Radiance – A celebration of vivacity
Italy’s sun-drenched south is undoubtedly the country’s most alluring and spirited region. The unparalleled architecture, lush gardens, sunny coastlines, and wild landscapes in destinations like Sicily, Puglia, and Naples not only make for picture-perfect postcards, but have also influenced a number of Bulgari’s most stunning precious pieces. The Mediterranean Muse necklace, for example, brings the colours of the sea together with aquamarine, diamonds, and at the ultimate focal point of the torchon body – a 15.13-carat cushion sapphire that brings together the undulating creation.
The Southern Sapphire platinum necklace is another tribute to Southern Italy, only more specifically, the Apulia region, where baroque villages continue to draw crowds in search of its intricately carved facades. Here, shimmering diamonds and sapphires rest amidst a 66.88-carat Ceylon sapphire in a lace-like design, evoking the iconic buildings and the Mediterranean Sea that surrounds it.
No trip to Southern Italy is complete without a dip in its clear, azure waters, and the Giardino Marino Grande timepiece perfectly encapsulates this sentiment. Swathed with over 4,800 colourful precious stones and gems, the masterpiece brings to life the vibrance of the underwater world – reef, fish, anemones and seashells included.
Tucked beautifully within the eye-catching reef is a starfish that boasts a 3.96-carat cabochon rubellite and a seashell that’s paved with diamonds and paraiba tourmalines, which can – quite cleverly – be detached to be worn as earrings. Another easter egg worth discovering here is the sapphire-paved shell that opens to reveal a pearl inside.
But its last treasure is its best one yet: A fish that opens to reveal a 12mm dial. The Piccolissimo micro mechanical movement is the smallest round mechanical caliber on the market, and is a testament to the Maison’s expertise in miniaturization.
Roman Splendor – An homage to Ancient Greece
The Eternal City is known for many things – haunting ruins, jaw-dropping frescos, and vibrant street life, to name a few – but beneath the surface is a history that’s just as complex as it is fascinating. Her most emblematic monuments and Ancient Greek mythology is celebrated with the Roman Esedra, a sautoir that’s inspired by another iconic Bulgari piece from the ‘70s. A 68.88-carat emerald here is the star of the show, which when combined with its yellow chain and trove of emeralds, amethysts, and turquoises, is an example of Mediterranean flamboyance at its best.
The same flair for craftsmanship and extravagance is portrayed in Bulgari’s watch department here. This time, cues are taken from Greek and Roman coins, which date back as far as the 5th century BC in Greece. Paying tribute to two of the greatest sovereigns of all times – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and the First Emperor of Rome Augusto Ottaviano – the ancient art of cameo carving is made new one again thanks to the famous Torre del Greco-based artisans.
For the ladies, the secret watch necklace features Cleopatra’s recognisable profile, with a rose gold chain and pendant that features diamonds and brilliant-cut rubies. The attention to detail continue within, where diamonds are snow-set around the open-worked Tourbillon Lumière manual-winding mechanical movement, BVL 208, in gold.
Meanwhile, gentlemen can seek inspiration from Augusto Ottaviano. The profile of the first Roman emperor here is made in cameo, and is flanked by diamonds and lapis lazuli on this one-of-a-kind timepiece. A platinum cap opens to reveal the BVL 268 SK caliber with flying tourbillon, an ultra-thin manual winding mechanical movement that’s record-breaking with a thickness of just under 2mm. The baguette diamonds around the 44mm platinum case adds plenty more flair, as does the sleek black alligator strap on this precious timepiece.
East Meets West – Beauty without borders
Thanks to a geographical location that spans three different continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa – the Mediterranean Sea is truly a melting pot of the world’s most extraordinary cultures. East Meets West is a celebration of this mosaic of communities, starting with the Oriental Fantasy necklace. Nine mandarin garnets that total over 90 carats are paired with vibrant citrines here to evoke the earthy palette of Northern African spice markets, while the marriage of mother-of-pearl and black onyx brings to mind the geometrical henna tattoos that Asian women adorn.
Meanwhile, the Oriental Buds pink gold necklace takes cues from the geometric beauty of Byzantine architecture with an exotic garden teeming with the most exceptional gems. A 13.34-carat antique cushion emerald from Colombia sits pretty amidst pink tourmaline, sapphire and emerald beads, creating intricate Indian Mughal-like motifs that required a whopping 2,300 hours to complete. Within, a secret watch awaits, accompanied by another stunning 5.65-carat Columbian fusion-cut emerald.
Serpenti – The eternal icon
The snake might be iconic at Bulgari, but it’s more than just a pretty face. A powerful symbol in Mediterranean cultures, from Mesopotamia and Egypt, to ancient Greece and ancient Rome, the serpent has always been regarded as an ally to women.
Joining the Mediterranea collection is the stunning Baroque Serpenti necklace, which combines two of Bulgari’s signature elements: the snake and emeralds. Here, seven emerald drops are carefully set to highlight the gem’s transparency. What’s more fascinating however, is how each emerald drops are in irregular shapes, highlighting the brand’s ingenuity in design and gem-setting.
Those who’ve been enamoured with Bulgari’s Serpenti will also know that the snake has been cleverly depicted within timeless watches. The Serpenti Misteriosi Dragone takes the magic of the creature to new heights by showcasing its evolution at the highest level. Now a dragon, the Serpenti watch sees a white gold dragon head that’s covered with diamonds, its ferocity accentuated by two pear-shaped emerald eyes.
For timekeeping, a simple press to its little tongue will trigger the dragon to open its mouth to reveal a dial that can be turned, making it possible to wear the statement piece on either wrist. The three-twirl white gold bracelet is further adorned with even more round brilliant-cut diamonds and emeralds. Talk about a head turner.
Find out more about Bulgari’s Mediterranea collection here.