Bvlgari’s Head of Heritage Might Just Have the Coolest Job in the World

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Bvlgari Serpenti - Lucia Boscaini
Photo: Courtesy of Bvlgari

Lucia Boscaini, Bvlgari’s Head of Heritage, may just have one of the coolest jobs in the luxury industry. As the guardian of the house’s heritage, Boscaini is not only responsible for overseeing its extensive archives, but helping to complete those archives by buying back lost or missing pieces. Think of her like Indiana Jones, hunting for coveted treasures, but with less poison darts and no snakes unless you count the Bvlgari ‘Serpenti’. On the occasion of Bvlgari’s Contemporary Art Award Ceremony, for which she was one of the judges, and the Heritage Exhibition at the gorgeous new Bvlgari boutique at The Dubai Mall, Boscaini carved out some time to speak with Savoir Flair

Our meeting begins with a tour of some of Bvlgari’s most cherished heritage pieces, on display for a limited time in the new boutique. Her demeanor shifts from demure to excited as we stand in front of a cabinet containing a colorful gemstone collar. “Jewels have to be worn to be really appreciated,” she enthused, explaining, “If you see on the side there are little frames we’ve stacked up, which keeps the jewels sitting higher on the neck and brings life to it. This piece is really special, which is why I wanted to bring it to celebrate this new store. It’s really iconic.”

Bvlgari master of gemstones collar - Lucia Boscaini
Photo: Courtesy of Bvlgari

Iconic is right. This piece is particular, pictured above, is well known to Bvlgari enthusiasts. It once belonged to the ultra-glamorous heiress and fashion icon Lyn Revson, who was known for her legendary collection of handbags and fine jewelry. How a stunning piece like this goes from the closet of Lyn Revson to the Bvlgari archives is part of the work of the Head of Heritage. It’s an intensive process, as Boscaini relays. “At the beginning, we would try through traditional channels like auction houses and dealers. It’s not the best way to rely on only those two channels.” One reason it’s not a great option is that when a dealer, for instance, finds out the house is trying to buy back a piece it drives the price up. However, Boscaini explains the primary reason, saying, “We also lose the opportunity to speak to the owner of the jewels. Dealers and auction houses protect their clients; some of the clients have to part with the jewels because of financial difficulties and they feel shame.” 

Bvlgari’s goal to speak to the owner of the jewelry is to understand its story, its history, where it’s traveled, and what it’s been through. The story deepens the beauty of the jewels and the house’s understanding of its life beyond. Boscaini gives an example. The ‘Serpenti’ design is an icon of the house and has been rendered in myriad forms. Through word-of-mouth, one day an elderly woman approached Bvlgari after seeing a small exhibition in Naples. She told them that she was in possession of a similar piece given to her by her husband. It turns out, she was in possession of one of the very first ‘Serpenti’ designs ever. “I love this piece,” Boscaini says, “It has eyebrows!” 

It also had a peculiarly shaped head and the scales were laid in an unusual way. This is one of the keys to recovering archival pieces, as it allows Bvlgari’s present-day artisans to really understand designs from the past. “It’s a great thing because it compensates for a lack of information. We have a lack of records. We also learn something from the way that they’re constructed. That’s one of the key reasons why we definitely need the actual jewelry and when we see the reality of the jewelry of the past it’s a great learning opportunity.”

- Lucia Boscaini "Snake" bracelet-watch in gold with emeralds and diamonds, ca. 1967. Bracelet in gold with scale motifs with navette and brilliant-cut diamonds; triple coil. The hinged diamond-set head with emerald eyes conceals a circular gold case; diamond-set bezel; champagne coloured dial; applied with black baton-shaped indexes at 12 triangular black index; "PIAGET / SWISS" logo printed in black; gold sword-shaped hands; gold pressure sealed back-case; crown winder; mechanical hand-wound movement. Marks: on the reverse of the head: "BVLGARI" engraved; on the back case "eagle's head".
Photo: Courtesy of Bvlgari

Like the ouroboros or the serpent that eats its tail, the process of recovery is never-ending. The cycle is for more than just in-house understanding, but it helps complete the Bvlgari archives, a quest that is seemingly infinite. When enough archival pieces are assembled, it gives the house the ability to stage exhibitions. These exhibitions, in turn, might trigger the memory of forgotten collections or reach the right people who have been sitting on rare and sought-after pieces. Boscaini is gearing up for a massive exhibition right now. “An exhibition means we can see the whole story of the house: the past, the present, and mauve the future. With all those pieces we can have a retrospective. I am working on one of the largest exhibitions ever, which is going to be in the Forbidden City in China. We are aiming to bring 1,000 jewelry pieces. It’s not even the whole collection, but they are 1,000 of the most important pieces to us.”

Another adventure is certainly around the corner for Boscaini and Bvlgari as they embark on this voyage. We cannot wait to discover what happens next.

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