Renowned Italian jeweller Bulgari recently presented a high jewellery exhibition – The Master of Colours – in Hong Kong. We met up with the maison’s high jewellery creative director, Giampaolo Della Croce, to talk about gemstones and what’s in vogue.

Q: Why are you visiting Hong Kong?

GDC: We are bringing a selection of one-of-a-kind jewels that is representative of the Bulgari brand to Hong Kong. One of the most distinctive characteristics of Bulgari is our love of colours and being able to combine them to create beautiful jewellery without losing our Italian identity and heritage. We hope to share this with our customers.

Read also: Coloured gemstones rise in demand among jewellers and investors as the supply dwindles

Q: What makes Bulgari’s jewellery special?

GDC: For me, high jewellery has to exhibit three qualities - charisma, uniqueness and the ability to maintain a common thread with its heritage, in Bulgari’s case, a history spanning over 135 years. Our jewellery is unique and people are attracted to it because of our signature multicoloured stones – spinels, garnets, tsavorites, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and so many more.

We don’t want to constantly change our creations and confuse customers but we don’t want to be boring either. We still want to be relevant and we want our customers to be able to “feel” the stones and not just see them. To be able to provide that kind of tactile experience is very special.

Read also: Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin says brand heritage inspires designs of the future

Q: What inspires Bulgari’s creative team?

GDC: We have an amazing archive with more than 1,500 sketches. It’s huge. It provides us with a lot of references, whether it be colour combinations, a sense of ‘taste and smell’ of the gemstones used, the period when they were drawn, etc. But we don’t want to copy ourselves. We want the archive to be part of the inspiration. Three other areas continue to influence us – the world of nature, Roman history and the flamboyancy of colours. In nature, the serpent has become our signature. But we continue to find new ways to interpret the serpent. Now it comes with a geometric head. Flowers also represent nature as you can see in many of Bulgari’s pieces. But ultimately it’s the stones that become the focus of our creativity because they are the soul of a Bulgari jewel. 

Q: What is your favourite colour?
GDC: Red. Spinels and rubies are my favourite stones because they possess such a passionate and brilliant hue. Both are very rare. Most come from Myanmar or Mozambique. Nowadays, finding a ruby that ranges between 8 and10 carats would take a couple of years. Above 10 carats, it will take around five to 10 years. When I see a beautiful ruby, I get chills.

Q: What are Bulgari’s best-selling pieces?

GDC: Necklaces! The ladies love our necklaces. After the ’80s and ’90s when chokers were in vogue, necklaces had a revival. Ladies became trendy again and started wearing more necklaces. Rings, too, have become the entry accessory before delving into the brand and starting to collect.

Q: What are the challenges facing the high-jewellery industry?

GDC: Strong competition, not from brands in the industry but from lifestyle choices. People are becoming more discerning and high-net-worth individuals are diversifying their portfolios to show off their lifestyle. They invest in leisure and pleasure – art, cars, yachts, real estate, etc. So they are spending more money on these things.

Q: Any advice for people who want to collect jewellery?

GDC: Attend auctions and you will learn why venerable brands can fetch very high prices. Don’t just simply buy a ring with a big stone, for example. Look for jewels with intrinsic value, creativity and stories behind them. Check out the retrospectives of some of the respected brands and see the collections. You will soon learn what is valuable.