By Esther Ligthart
Luxury brand Bulgari embraces its destiny in the modern world as a legendary jewellery house and a staunch supporter of the arts and humanitarian causes.
Bulgari’s profound influence on the global fine jewellery industry remains irrefutable. For centuries, the Italian jewellery brand, founded in Rome in 1884, has given birth to legendary pieces that redefined opulence and established enduring styles.
Among its most iconic collections is Serpenti, which made its debut in the 1940s with the first Serpenti jewel – a snake watch that coiled the wrist while keeping time in its jaws. This collection has been reimagined and enriched from time to time to include more contemporary pieces, showcasing the maison’s resilient and ingenious nature.
Another highly coveted collection is B.zero1, which pays homage to Bulgari’s Roman heritage. Designed with the Colosseum in mind, the signature B.zero1 ring features sharp curves, fluid geometric lines and a Bulgari logo.
Over the years, the jeweller remained true to its Italian origins even after its acquisition by French luxury conglomerate LVMH in 2011.
Bulgari has taken its role as patron of the arts, which is a constant source of inspiration for many of its beloved pieces, very seriously.
In celebration of its 130th anniversary, the group financed the restoration of the steps that lead from the Piazza di Spagna to the Church of the Trinità dei Monti. According to Bulgari, this gesture was intended as a genuine tribute to the city of Rome.
Most recently, the jeweller also played a major part in the restoration of two stolen Van Gogh paintings, which were recovered in 2016. At an event celebrating the paintings’ homecoming in Amsterdam in November last year, Lelio Gavazza, Bulgari’s managing director for EMEA, underscored Bulgari’s indelible connection with art.
He explained that jewellery making is interminably connected to the world of art since both disciplines employ creativity in design and precise execution.
Perhaps it is this unique predisposition to all things artistic that made Bulgari the jeweller of choice by high-profile individuals. Colourful, vibrant and bold jewellery pieces have captured the hearts of notable influencers before the rise of the Internet: Hollywood stars, led by legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor.
In order to grow and diversify, the company started exploring opportunities in the watch industry through the acquisition of Swiss luxury watch manufacturers Gerald Genta SA and Daniel Roth SA in 2000. In 2004, it inked a joint venture agreement with the Leviev Group in a bid to further develop Bulgari’s diamond jewellery business.
In 2011, LVMH purchased Bulgari for US$5.2 billion – a move that proved beneficial to both parties. Over time, the market has witnessed how Bulgari profited extensively from the expertise and global retail network of LVMH, while preserving its Italian roots.
Bulgari tried its hand at online business in 2009. However, it only started to fully embrace the potential of e-commerce in 2017 with the opening of its first virtual stores in the US and Japan.
According to Bulgari, its decision to focus more on its digital operations was inspired by its commitment to better serve its clients, particularly those who don’t have easy access to physical boutiques.
Tapping into the immediate desire of the client is crucial because losing the momentum could result in the buyer rethinking and postponing his or her purchase. Making it a smooth shopping experience is key to increasing online sales, revealed the company.
Listening to clients, and investing in new production techniques and collections were instrumental in Bulgari’s 2017 performance. From January to September last year, LVMH’s watches and jewellery group recorded a 13 percent growth in revenues, mainly driven by Bulgari. Bulgari’s “remarkable” performance was fuelled by the rapid growth of its signature collections Serpenti, Diva and B.zero1, noted LVMH.
Future of jewellery
In March 2017, Bulgari opened a new, state-of-the-art factory in Valenza. According to the jeweller, the structure was built with innovative technologies and materials with a low environmental impact. Bulgari is eyeing to achieve a LEED certification for the facility.
Throughout the year, the brand has reinvented and relaunched some of its classic collections such as B.zero1 and Divas’ Dream to include jewellery pieces in more vivid hues and modern styles.
The new, edgier designs are meant to embody the woman of today – graceful and refined, yet bold and carefree, revealed Bulgari.
It also devoted its efforts to corporate social responsibility initiatives with the Save the Children project.
Its latest campaign, #RaiseYourHand, is backed by a roster of celebrities and has since raised US$50 million through sales of Bulgari’s luxury jewellery pieces.
These donations have reached one million beneficiaries in 33 countries across five continents, in areas where natural disasters, wars, conflict, marginalisation, disability and poverty can hinder the right to education and a better future, according to Bulgari.
The brand’s growth strategy is clear: Embrace the future and cherish the roots of its past by nurturing the unbreakable bond between humanity and the arts.