LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Bulgari's Elliptical Elegance


Bulgari's Elisia collection reworks the ellipse motif present in the 1960s, '70s and '80s vintage collections.

Bulgari tips its hat to vintage, weaving formal design narratives of elegance and sophistication through past and present.

When it comes to Bulgari's Elisia collection, it's a matter of mathematical imagination. Take a cone. Slice the cone at different heights and at different angles, then turn these ovals around one another and the ellipses begin to play.

The Elisia collection reaches into the rich Bulgari design archive for vintage inspiration. More elegant, sober and delicately feminine than ever, it is a play of harmonious colors and refined volume but, above all, it speaks of history with a precise design motif - the ellipse.

Bulgari designs begin as watercolor sketches crafted by an artist's hand. These design drafts were the foundation for the Elisia creations, when the base concepts were reapplied in fresh renditions of rings, necklaces and earrings. Such exquisite jewel craftsmanship, expressing a unique history of intention and inspiration is perhaps why Andy Warhol described Bulgari's 10, Via Condotti Rome store as "the best exhibition of contemporary art."

Harmony, style, and a tasteful mix of classicism and modernity are all paramount at the house of Bulgari. The play between obedience and rebellion in relation to symmetry and the repetition of a creative element, like an operatic leitmotiv, brings an essential coherence to their design.

As Mr. Paolo Bulgari, grandson of founder Sotirio Bulgari, is known to say, "People cannot live without aesthetics."

The first appearance of the oval motif in the 1960s was regal and timeless, a rare combination of splendor and conservatism. Inspired by ancient Egypt, floral clusters of gold-set diamonds encircle precious stones in an almost perfect concentric setting, just verging on the oval shape. A smaller, singular set of jewels hangs from the foliate cluster, adding an extra touch to this impressive and commanding collection.

The bold designs of the 1970s construed the concentric layers ever more eccentrically. As Bulgari looked away from ancient Egypt and toward its more traditional Greco-Roman design inspiration, the geometry really began to take shape. Just as the scientists Euclid and Kepler used the early discoveries of Ancient Egypt to explore ellipses in their theorems, so did Bulgari start from the East but advance West in its design inspiration. For form, designers looked to Italian Renaissance and Baroque architecture such as Borromini's San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome. One necklace features a guinea coin pendant of William and Mary harking back to 1694. The 1970s witnessed the Bulgari company's expansion, with store launches in New York, Geneva and Paris, as it displayed its jewels on the international marketplace. Little wonder, then, that the playfully exaggerated ellipse in the decade's designs was characterized by such daring personality.

While the designs of the 1970s were strong, in the 1980s the ellipse returned to a more embellished refinement, including decadent, oval layers of diamonds and rock-crystals, with a particularly restrained emphasis on the cabochon sapphire.

Baptized Elisia, a female surname of Greek origin, this newest collection elongates and refines the ellipse, declaring it a quintessentially feminine contour. The diamonds are smaller and more numerous - chain links sometimes comprised of only pavé diamonds - but the eccentricity of the collection lies in the large, singular diamond that boldly offsets the others.

Emeralds, sapphires and rubies are present and more sophisticated than ever, maintaining the eccentricity of the '70s and some of the floral setting of the '60s. A variety of pure, harmonious gemstones such as amethyst, topaz and onyx adds vivacity and contrast. The range of color consistency - from creamy coral to clear tourmaline - adds a level of depth only yet suggested in the vintage collections.

Elisia necklaces are designed to fall perfectly and effortlessly on the neckline. Featuring an adjustable pendant drip at the back closure, they draw the eye down toward the line of a woman's back. The necklaces are especially suggestive and celebratory of everything but themselves, a classic gesture in the definition of elegance.

Brilliant design concepts are open – they have an essential, timeless element that invites reinterpretation and evolution. The word "ellipse" has its origins in the ancient Greek word meaning "absence"; a beautiful mathematical form, the ellipse is the perfect design motif. The idea of absence characterizes the aspect of design that openly lends itself to endless interpretation - perpetual incarnations of exuberant retro modernity.

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