Italian Jewels, Bulgari Style at the NGV

If there’s one thing the Italians are good at, it’s everything. From their prosciutto to their pistachio gelato, their scooters to their renaissance artists, there seems to be nothing the Italians can’t nail. But nothing — not even endless panini — can top their strongest strong point: style. It’s effortless, it’s authentic, it’s ingenious and a special slice of it is now here in Melbourne.

Until January 29, the National Gallery of Victoria is proudly presenting its latest exhibition, Italian Jewels, Bulgari Style, a jaw-dropping event showcasing some of the luxury brand’s most iconic pieces.

Necklace in gold with emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, 1967. The front decorated with 10 large floral clusters set with 25 cabochon sapphires for a total of ca. 67 carats; 71 cabochon emeralds ca. 48 carats (total); 88 cabochon rubies ca. 75 carats (total); 348 brilliant-cut diamonds ca. 22.5 carats (total). The back formed of similarly set foliate motifs. Marks: on the tongue-piece: "BVLGARI" engraved; inside the clasp: "750"; "eagle's head"; "SC"; lozenge with "R / star / D /".

Necklace in gold with emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, 1967.

Celebrating the longstanding relationship between Bulgari and Hollywood cinema, the exhibition pays homage to the screen sirens of the Golden Age, and the exquisite jewels that adorned them.

The collection — never before seen in Australia — includes over 80 breathtaking pieces from the personal collections of Elizabeth Taylor and Gina Lollobrigida, as well as those from Bulgari’s Heritage Collection. Having been fortunate enough to get a sneak preview at the exhibition’s launch, I can promise you it’s nothing short of incredible.

Italian Jewels, Bulgari Style at the NGV

I took my lapidarian/silversmith sister (from JeweLani) along with me to the launch. As someone who spends every waking moment in her workshop, I knew she’d appreciate the event. And she did. In fact, she appreciated it so much that I lost her in the exhibition several times, only to find her pressed against the glass cabinet of one blindingly brilliant necklace or another.

And it’s hard to blame her, really. The pieces themselves are simply stunning, each one a testament to the creative vision and effortless elegance that Bulgari is so famous for. Seeing them up close, it is impossible not to appreciate the remarkable craftsmanship and artistic vision that has so clearly gone into each and every piece. It is the very quality that Bulgari — and indeed, Italy — is so renowned for.

Earrings in gold with rubies and diamonds, 1994. Each of double Creole design, decorated with cushion-shaped and calibrated cut rubies, in a surround of baguette and brilliant-cut diamonds.

Earrings in gold with rubies and diamonds, 1994.

My only problem with the jewels is that they’re not mine.

– Anoosha
Anoosha is a blogger, writer, and obsessive tea-drinker.

Italian Jewels, Bulgari Style runs at the NGV until the end of January and is well worth checking out — whether you’re a lover of haute couture, or you simply enjoy gawking at shiny things. Admission is free, and guided tours are available.
The venue is accessible.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of the NGV.
Image credit: NGV.