A Bold Bulgari Necklace That Reimagines a Late-’60s Design

Three years ago, the house reacquired one of its own iconic pieces, which inspired a magnificent new creation.

Article by Lindsay Talbot

The Roman jewellery house’s modern update of the famous Barocko necklace. Price on request. Still life by Doug Rosa. Styled by Flavia Figà-Talamanca

Bulgari opened its first jewellery shop on Via Sistina in Rome in 1884 and soon became known for its bold combinations of precious and semiprecious stones. Many of the house’s most arresting designs were created in the ’50s and ’60s, including the 1969 sautoir necklace — a heart-shaped emerald pendant, weighing over 127 carats, surrounded by cabochon-cut gems of ruby, citrine, amethyst, turquoise and topaz. Shortly after it came off the workbench, the piece — which converted into two bracelets — was shot for American Vogue, its magnificent links draped across the model Veruschka’s scarf-covered head. It was then bought by a Genevese collector, who purchased it for his wife. Decades later, Bulgari came across a 1975 oil portrait of a woman wearing what looked to be the very same necklace. Three years ago, the house bought back the piece when it came up for auction at Sotheby’s and returned it to its archives.

The model Veruschka draped in Bulgari’s original sautoir necklace, photographed by Franco Rubartelli for American Vogue in 1969. Photography: Franco Rubartelli for Vogue US 1969. Courtesy of Bulgari

That reacquisition inspired Bulgari’s creative director, Lucia Silvestri, to design the Barocko necklace. Rendered in pink gold, the new creation features six cushion-cut green tourmalines — a nod to the emerald pendant in the original necklace — while its links are set with 44 round stones of ruby, amethyst, citrine and turquoise that Silvestri sourced while traveling in India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Thailand. “The idea was to create something more wearable, while echoing the 1969 design,” Silvestri says. “Because you can never have too much light, colour and wonder.” Mai troppo, indeed.