Bulgari Opens Jewelry Retrospective in Paris

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Elizabeth Taylor wearing her Bulgari diamond and 18-carat emerald brooch that Richard Burton gave her as an engagement present in 1962.

Rome–Famed Bulgari jewelry worn over the decades by such stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman and others, will be presented in a special retrospective in Paris, the first such public exhibition held in France.

BVLGARI: 125 Ans de Magnificence Italienne, Bulgari’s second retrospective exhibition ever to be held will open to the public at the prestigious Grand Palais in Paris from December 10 through January 12, 2011.  It will be the first large-scale retrospective by a jewelry house at the Grand Palais, and has been organized under the high patronage of Italian president and prime minister’s office.

The exhibition will retrace the main chapters in Bulgari’s history and the evolution of the aesthetic that made the brand a major force in luxurgoods from the opening of the first shop on Via Sistina in 1884 through today.  It will be displayed in eight galleries featuring more than 600 jewels, watches and objets d’art, as well as photographs and films of artists, aristocrats and celebrities who have worn Bulgari over the years.

Jewelry from the Archives and Major Collectors

Although half of the exhibition items on display belong to Bulgari’s historical archives, others have been lent by private collectors from all around the world.  Many of the pieces were not included in the last exhibition in Rome in 2009, and have never before been displayed in public. Most notably are three pieces that were loaned by the Grimaldi family, including one necklace that belonged to Princess Grace of Monaco.

One gallery will include jewels that were worn and owned by screen legends of the 1950s and 1960s: Anna Magnani, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Ingrid Bergman, Monica Vitti, and Sophia Loren, to name a few. Another gallery will display jewels from Elizabeth Taylor’s personal collection, including the infamous Grand Duchess Vladimir’s Suite, a diamond and emerald brooch/necklace with matching long emerald drop earrings, a ring and bracelet that boast more than 150 carats of Colombian emeralds, given to her by Richard Burton during their stormy love affair.

The exhibition’s curator, Amanda Triossi, has been director of the Bulgari Historical Archives since 1997. She is the author of two editions of BVLGARI (1995 and 2007), the book dedicated to the company’s history. A new catalogue will be printed for the Paris exhibition, and will feature 320 illustrated pages of documentation and photographs.

“This retrospective will also be a testimony of the special link that Bulgari and Paris have shared since the early 1920s, when Paris, the capital of decorative arts with its international atmosphere–was one of the sources of creative inspiration and innovation for my grandfather Sotirio and his son Giorgio Bulgari,” said Francesco Trapani, ceo of the Bulgari Group. “Since then the Bulgari style has evolved in a recognizable and unmistakable Roman distillation of its Greek heritage.”