You might not know her name, but you know her work – better yet, you already love her work. Perennially surrounded by the world’s most expensive stones and precious metals, Lucia Silvestri is perhaps the most admirable woman on earth – and rightfully so. With decades in the industry, the Creative Director of Bulgari has earned her position among the world’s premier jewelers. And yet, the woman behind some of the most decadent pieces of luxury in existence is still a relative mystery.
As sophisticated as she is down to earth, Silvestri speaks with a palpable passion for all things stone and sparkle, like the diamonds in the new ‘Fiorever’ collection. Inspired by the “Eternal City” of Rome and a vintage Bulgari brooch, it was slowly conceptualizing long before it came to fruition. What started as a task from Nicola Bulgari turned into an obsession that led to inspiring the new flower motif of the line. In an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, the Italian innovator sat down to give us some insights on her story with Bulgari and how she unintentionally reached the highest pinnacle of success for a jewelry designer. Read on to find out what inspires her, who the Bulgari woman really is, and why the new ‘Fiorever’ collection is unlike any of the label’s previous work.
Let’s start at the beginning. Have you always wanted to be a jewelry designer?
No, but I started when I was very young, first by buying gems and then selecting them because we start with the gems when we create something new. In some ways, I was creating from the beginning. Naturally, I started putting the stones together and matching colors, so in some way, I was a creative person who was unofficially involved until 2013, when I became the official Creative Director.
Where do you feel most inspired?
Rome. When I went around the city, I realized that I can discover so many fantastic places that I didn’t know about. For me, Rome is a museum of space. Also, my office – I have these two beautiful windows and a table full of gems, and there’s the beautiful sky and landscape, all of which inspire me. Traveling is another great source of inspiration. I’m here at the Bulgari Resort Dubai, and I love looking at the landscape and the color of the sea. For me, traveling is very important, but it’s much more important to collect ideas from abroad and put my ideas on the table in my office.
Follow your passion, but work hard.
As a woman in such a high-powered position, do you have a life motto or words of wisdom for other women looking to reach their goals?
Because it’s my passion, my job is not really a job. On my Instagram account, my followers often ask me, “Do you have any suggestions since you’re in such an important position?” My suggestion: follow your passion, but work hard. Nothing is a gift, so you need to find your passion like I found mine when I discovered gems. Even in my position, I am still learning. There is something new to learn every day, but always work and follow your passion!
You’re the woman behind Bulgari but who, in your opinion, is the Bulgari woman?
For this collection, you can see Úrsula Corberó who, for me, is the perfect testimonial for these pieces. She’s beautiful, young, feminine, and sexy, but in some ways, she can be masculine and tough, yet delicate. These are all angles that are inside every woman. Úrsula represents all of them. For me, Ursula is the typical Bulgari woman.
Flowers are the focus of the ‘Fiorever’ collection. Are there any flowers that you looked to for inspiration or did you already have one in mind when you started?
When I first started to work with flowers for the ‘High Jewelry’ collection, I started with this flower brooch from 1985 and it became an obsession for me. I never saw it at first. Only a few years later did the brooch come to Bulgari and I saw it in real life. I was amazed! Mr. Bulgari challenged me to find its equal, saying, “You have to find gems this size, but colored gems, ruby, and emerald – not sapphires.” After two years, I found them in Jaipur. It was a goal that I thought was impossible, but it was fun. I worked with the cutter and then went to Mr. Bulgari, and said, “See, I could take on this challenge.” He made this flower necklace, we sold it, and then realized that the symbol is simple but universal.
Was that the inspiration for this collection?
The Bulgari flower. The challenge of this collection is to create a small piece of art with Bulgari style – it’s delicate but not too delicate, romantic but rough –it’s versatile. The challenge was working only with diamonds. Bulgari is known for its colors, but in this case, the collection is made only with diamonds. The flower is the Bulgari flower, its craftsmanship, its details – it’s not rigid and it’s not flat. It’s moving. We played with two colors: white and pink.
What was the creative process like?
It’s fun to create because I have a team of designers, and we started to study our archives and the connection between flowers and Rome, which is a source of inspiration, too. We walked around the city visiting palazzos and squares, and we discovered lots of flowers especially in Palazzo Massimo. The flower there is exactly like the one we created – the one with four petals – so there we found the connection between the Bulgari flower and Rome.
How would you describe this collection?
It’s playful, versatile, and it makes you feel good when you wear it. Feel free to mix and match it with other pieces, pendants with earrings, get playful. Everything is interchangeable, from morning to evening.
How long was the process between the inception and the launch?
Two years. We started to study the design in 2016 and then we began sketching, drawing, making prototypes, and creating something that’s modern and bold, but delicate.
How long does each piece take to make?
It depends – once we’ve found the right proportions, it’s not too long. The prototype takes the most time because we have to adjust each single part. But I think that once we decide, it takes between one to two months.
So what is the future for Bulgari?
To keep Bulgari the cool brand that is it! My challenge is to maintain the DNA of the company and not just be the most important luxury jewelry brand, but also be at the top of luxury in terms of lifestyle with our watches and accessories.
Lastly, do you have a gem you prefer?
I’m crazy for all of them!
See the crossroads of the Eternal City and the Bulgari flower in the ‘Fiorever’ collection, below.