Your Last Chance to Experience the Italian Jewels : Bulgari Style

Posted on 20 January 2017Vintage Jewellery Bulgari Collection Exhibition

Italian Jewels: Bulgari Style

NGV International | 30 Sept 2016 – 29 Jan 2017 | Free entry

From our very own Naomi Watts to the iconic Elizabeth Taylor, celebrities have been collecting and endorsing Bulgari jewellery designs for decades and for the last 3 months visitors to the National Gallery of Victoria have been privileged enough to admire a curated collection of the Italian beauties up close.

The Bulgari design house has had a longstanding relationship with Hollywood's finest and there have been many iconic cinematic moments where the two have come together, none more memorable than Elizabeth Taylor and her exquisite Emerald suite. The expedition showcases over 80 extravagant works from the design house, coupled with images of iconic stars who have adorned themselves with these outstanding gems, including many from Elizabeth Taylor's and Gina Lollobrigida's personal collections, as well as pieces worn by Ingrid Bergman, Anita Ekberg and Sophia Loren.

The NGV have been kind enough to allow me to share with you a number of images of pieces that are on show from their elegant display that many have hailed "breathtaking". This is your last chance to capture a glimpse of this display before it ends on 29th January 2017, so if you are able to get to Melbourne in that time, be sure to visit.

In 1962, Elizabeth Taylor arrived in Rome to star in the movie Cleopatra. It was then that she was introduced to Bulgari and the long standing relationship with the design house began. In her Book 'My Love Affair With Jewelry', Elizabeth stated "undeniably, one of the biggest advantages of working on Cleopatra in Rome was Bulgari's nice little shop. I used to visit Gianni Bulgari in the afternoons and we'd sit in what he called "the money room" and swap stories."

Cleopatra, was also the beginning of another relationship for Elizabeth Taylor, the most scandalous of its time, as she fell in love with her on-screen love, Richard Burton. As the two were already married, the coupling caused a huge sensation. They were inseparable and the two frequently visited the Bulgari store, with Richard gifting the above Platinum 7.40ct Emerald and 5.30ct Diamond Ring, the very first of many pieces of jewellery he would give her. In 2002 Elizabeth held an auction for 'The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation' where this ring was sold and she addressed a letter to the new owners saying "Wear it with love!".

In 2011, Christie's held an Auction of Elizabeth Taylor's private collection, the interest was unprecedented with bidders from 36 different countries over a 4 day period. Her collection of 1,778 lots of jewellery, fashion, decorative arts and film memorabilia fetched a combined total of US$156,756,576 and set records for the most valuable sale of jewellery in auction history with some pieces selling for 50 times their estimate. Bulgari re-acquired seven pieces from the auction to retain as part of the Heritage Collection.

Many may remember the above Necklace set with 16 step-cut octagonal Colombian Emeralds and and estimated total of 60.50ct of diamonds worn by Elizabeth Taylor when she received the 1966 Oscar for Best Actress. The Pendant element was actually a Brooch that had been made 1958 and given to Elizabeth as a gift by Richard Burton when they were engaged in 1962. The Necklace, made in 1962, was given as a Wedding gift to Elizabeth from Richard when they married in 1964. This piece had been worn several times by Elizabeth, including her Wedding Day.

Visitors to the Italian Jewels collection have been impressed by the craftsmanship of the various "Tremblant" Brooches on display. These amazing designs showcase flower settings on springs that allow movement and flickering light. The Brooch above was crafted in 1960 and was yet another piece owned by Elizabeth Taylor.

Whilst the Emerald jewels are a favourite (especially for me), Bulgari are also known for their dazzling displays of brilliant coloured gems; their bib Necklaces are truly outstanding.

Above : Claudia Cardinale featured in the December 1966 Italia Vogue wearing this stunning collier and choker.

Above : 1965 Gold, Emerald, Turquoise, Amethyst and Diamond bib Necklace from the Bulgari Heritage Collection, Rome.

Above : 1967 Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond bib Necklace worn by Kiera Knightly to the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.

Above & Below : The Ruby and Diamond Necklace worn by Sophia Loren in the 1994 film Pret-a-porter, on show in the exhibit with the matching Earrings.

Above : This Platinum Diamond Bracelet circa 1955 was worn by Julia Roberts to the 2014 Golden Globes as well as Elizabeth Taylor in the first shot above.

Above : Bulgari is known for designing with reverence to its Greek and Roman roots. This 1972 Playing card Sautior in Gold with Coral, Mother-of-pearl, Onyx and Diamonds stands out from the collection with its unique design and craftsmanship.

Above : Brand ambassador, Naomi Watts wore this 1989 Gold, Amethyst, Rubies, Diamonds and Emerald Necklace to the Bulgari Decades of Glamour Oscar Party, in which she hosted, in 2014.

As you can see, this is just a sample of the magnificent display of jewels on offer at the NGV until the 29 January; I'm sure many will agree that there is nothing quite like seeing these masterful pieces in person.

For further information regarding the Italian Jewels : Bulgari Style at the NGV please visit

If you are not fortunate enough to get to Melbourne but are still interested in reading and seeing more about Bulgari's collection spanning over 125 years, here are some highly recommended books and DVD for your consideration.

All photos have been supplied courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Jewellery shots credited to Antonio Barrella Studio Orizzonte.

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