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On May 2, the Houston Museum of Natural Science debuted “BVLGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces.” In the exhibition, Bulgari—for the first time—presents the full range of its creations, which showcase every epoch since 1884. The show draws on historical archives as well as loans from private collections to present 150 representative masterpieces.
When Greek Silversmith Sotiro Bulgari opened his first jewelry shop in Rome in 1884, his designs were already charged with ingenuity. He revolutionized jewelry design, distinguishing himself with a bold, pioneering style inspired by Greco-Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and 19th-century Roman goldsmiths. This style would later be defined as the “Italian School” of jewelry design.
In both past and present, Bulgari’s radiant stones, distinctive designs, and attention to detail have long rendered it attractive to the most glamorous and formidable stars. Most famously, Elizabeth Taylor had a defining love affair with Bulgari jewels. Along with pieces from the Elizabeth Taylor collection, the exhibition displays jewelry either worn or owned by outstanding women such as Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Juliette Binoche, and Meryl Streep.
While this choice of venue for the retrospective exhibition of a luxury jewelry designer may not initially seem obvious, Joel A. Bartsch, President of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, expressed the complementary relationship of Bulgari and the institution. “Because the Houston Museum of Natural Science is home to one of the finest collections of natural gem crystals in the world, I have a deep appreciation for the quality and diversity of the gems that Bulgari uses when creating their jeweled masterpieces,” he said. Bartsch also admires that Bulgari honors tradition, but continues to, “push the envelop in jewelry design and cutting-edge technology into the future when so many others are content to merely rest on their laurels.”
In addition to the jewels, the “130 Years of Masterpieces” includes sketches from the archives in Rome, portraits of many of the world’s most lustrous women, and the Serpente and Monete collections that typify the mythological roots and contemporary resonance of Bulgari designs.
The show runs through October 5, 2014.