When you picture Rome, what comes to mind? Is it Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon of Ancient Rome — Rome as it used to be? Or perhaps it is the architecture and artwork that you find around every corner casually staring back at you as if it is completely normal for masterpieces to be living among the people instead of in a museum? Or maybe it’s simply the delicious thought of enjoying some gelato and a small espresso amidst the bustle and thrum of the Italian people.
Whatever your personal relationship to Rome is, the world’s connection to the Eternal City changed when videos emerged of music ringing out from Italian balconies during the lockdowns, bringing hope to the masses. The Italians — lovers of fine wine, spectacular artwork, and rich literature — reminded the human race that we are resilient. With music, they moved us from the isolation of our homes into a connected brotherhood of man that fought to keep the human spirit alive, despite a global pandemic raging war on our race. In the days and weeks that followed, the Italians’ daily concerts and celebrations of life inspired hope, joy, and light for all humanity.
And that is exactly what Creative Director Lucia Silvestri has done with Bvlgari’s new high jewelry collection ‘Barocko’. Inspired by the great Roman artists of the Baroque period, the collection captures the essence of the Baroque in Color (Colore), Light (Luce), and Wonder (Meraviglia).
In Colore, the deep, rich, and vivid colors of the gemstones, or ‘rocks’ (because ‘Barocko’ is, in essence, about the ‘rock’), have a life force of their own and appeal to all of the senses. The perfect cut and craftsmanship of the stones brings the gems to life and you can almost feel their pulse, like in the rubellite that sits near the heart on the one-of-a-kind ‘Lady Rubellite’.
In Luce, diamonds ensnare the light as if by magic, until it is released to chase itself round and around in a mesmerizingly sensual movement, as seen in the ‘Serpenti Spell’ bracelet-ring. The light is magnified in each individual piece so that they do not just sparkle — they radiate boldness, sophistication, elegance, and femininity.
In Meraviglia, the theatricality and drama of the Baroque period is recreated with curves, angles, volume, and astonishing design work. Inspired by the outstretched wings of the Archangel Michael, who sits on the top of the Castel Sant Angelo, the daring ‘Wings of Rome’ are situated in a climax of movement, ready to take flight.
In short, ‘Barocko’ is craftsmanship of the highest calibre, and may just be the kind of collection that we need right now. The hope, joy, and light that emanate from each piece remove us from any current circumstances, pleasant or unpleasant, and transport us into a world of exuberance, color, and life, where art has the power to lift the human spirit.
During an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Silvestri talked with us about how she conceptualized, sourced, and designed the new ‘Barocko’ collection. Much like her beloved stones, Silvestri is a woman full of light, color, and elegance. Her natural cadence is like a river of music that lilts along as you flow through the streets of Rome, where it all began. Talking with her was nothing short of inspiring. She is Bvlgari. And she is ‘Barocko’.
‘Barocko’ is described as a collection of joy, light, and hope. Was it purely coincidental that it speaks so accurately to our current time?
You know, we had in mind to do a Baroque theme at least two or three years ago. Baroque is in our veins. It’s in our DNA. Baroque is Bvlgari. Maybe because we are Roman, and we are from this city — this Baroque city, that the entire creative team thought it was quite natural for us to show how Bvlgari can re-interpret the Baroque. Baroque artwork has a large scope, and there are so many aspects and angles that we can use, but we concentrated our creativity in three main areas that are also pillars of Bvlgari: Light, Color — we are masters of color — and Wonder, because in some ways, we are always wondering. I started working on ‘Barocko’ last year in August. My first moment of inspiration was in Piazza Navona. Have you ever been to Rome?
Yes, I have. I love it.
So for sure you know Piazza Navona.
It’s a place where Bernini and Borromini, the best of the Baroque, live together. I started at seven o’clock in the morning in August and nobody was there. I walked around the square taking pictures, feeling the Baroque essence, feeling the atmosphere, and then I shared the pictures with my team — with the designers. And that is how we began to start talking about ‘Barocko.’
How long did it take you to cultivate all the gemstones that you found for the designs?
When I travel, I’m trying to find the best gems in the world, and when I find something, I buy it. And then I keep it aside, so later I have a selection for the collections. So we started collecting the gems two or three years ago, but we started to create the collection around the theme one year ago.
Walk us through the design steps for the collection. What came first and was there any overlap? For example, did the gems inspire the designs, or the other way around?
We always start with the gems. So, for example, this necklace is the ‘Lady Arabesque’. First of all, I selected stones that I would like to wear together. Then, I talked with the designer and I said “I would like to see these curves, these elements around the stones.”
So she made a sketch, and we worked together around the sketches. But then for, I think, at least two months, I kept working with the stones, because I was not happy with the combination of colors. So I restarted with completely different stones and new combinations, and slowly, I found this combination: Paraiba tourmalines, fancy pink and purplish sapphires, with a touch of emeralds. It was perfect! We had never used this combination before. So it is something completely new.
How do you choose which stones to use together? Is it intuition?
You know, there is a word that I like to use a lot: Harmony. When I feel the right harmony between the colors, the shapes, the balance, between the gold and gems and design, it’s perfect .
For instance, these earrings. They are incredible. The picture is not enough to show how beautiful they are. How feminine they are. They are really elegant. They are Baroque. But also rock. It’s Bvlgari.
I’m going to show you something that I just received this morning. So I’m going to see it for the first time with you. It’s really amazing. I started with the rubellite and peridot with cabochon cuts before I laid out the stones. Then, I asked the designer to work our ‘Divas’ style in a Baroque way. So you can see the shape of ‘Divas’, but it is more colorful, more rich, and very playful. It’s a happy necklace.
All of these details, plus the fact that I was in Rome during this period without traveling, means I had the opportunity to follow the craftsmanship step by step. You see how flexible it is? It took six months to make this necklace. And again, the way you can wear it is versatile. It could be very formal and worn with a long dress for a formal occasion, or you could wear it less formally with a leather jacket, or I don’t know, something different.
Thank you for showing me that. I love Bernini. He’s probably one of my favorite Baroque artists. I was struck by the drama of the pieces, many of them in the Meraviglia line. I was wondering if you felt that any of these pieces captured the theatrical essence of the Baroque artists, particularly Bernini?
You know, again, talking about the first necklace that we saw, the ‘Lady Arabesque’, the shape, the volume of the curves is very Bernini. Because the curves are very rich and not flat. Nothing is flat in Baroque. The movement is there as well. Baguettes, pave, round, pear shapes — all of these shapes and volumes mixed together are typical Bernini. And it is something that is very special and unique, even to Rome.
Look at this. It is a sugar loaf emerald that is more than 32 carats. When I bought this stone, it was not a perfect cut, so I asked the cutters that we have here in Italy to recut the gem a little bit in order to bring it to life. The material was great, the color was vivid, but I couldn’t feel the real life inside the stone.
When he recut it, we lost a little bit of weight, but in the end, the sparkling of the stone was really incredible.
It came to life.
Yes! You see, nothing is flat. We have domes. We have baguettes. We have rounds. We have beads. We have different shapes of gems and volume and sizes.
Do you have a favorite piece from the ‘Barocko’ collection? I guess that’s a bit like asking you to choose your favorite child.
Yes. You know, I love all of them. Because they are like my babies, my children. But I will show you my favorite piece from the collection. But I know that they just sold it. It’s this ring.
I am so in love with this ring. I wanted it for me. This ring is a green tourmaline. Eleven carats. But it is the fact that I saw the rough of this green tourmaline. It was dark green, like my dress, but when I looked inside of the rough, there was a vein with a touch of yellow.
There is also a necklace of the same quality and from the same rough where the green has a touch of yellow as well. I love the fact that it’s not a green with blue, but rather a green with a yellow touch. And the cut is a very elegant cushion cut. I asked the designer to put together a turquoise, amethyst, and a rubellite. It was inspired by a sautoir vintage piece that we have in our collection with a huge cabochon emerald. But this is a cocktail ring, very modern, very contemporary, and also very Bvlgari. You can see from afar that it is a Bvlgari piece. It’s timeless.