Creating Bvlgari’s jewels

Mar 11, 2017

Lucia Silvestri, Creative Director of Bvlgari, began to work with the brand in the 1980s and has since grown with the maison to reach new heights. “Day & Night” magazine was able to quiz the 2017 winner of the “Gem Award for Jewelry Design” on her creative process and the marque’s success story

Q:What are the changes that you have seen since you started working with Bvlgari?
A:There have been huge changes – when I started, Bvlgari had only five stores, now we have more than 200. It is now a huge business, but when I started, I worked with the two brothers in a family business. I was very lucky I started with them. They were buying only special and big stones on their trips. They were looking for somebody whom they could teach about small stones; I had a special feeling for gems and I feel in love with gemstones. They could see it in the way I handled the gemstones. They said that they would invest in me and teach me even though I was young. I should thank them for this.

Q:In an industry where people change jobs every four-five years, what made you stay with Bvlgari for so long?
A:The company has been growing rapidly; there is change every year. There has been no static period; we are always expanding so I do not feel bored. My passion for the brand, my love for the gems and the craftsmanship – all of these make this not just a job, but my passion.

Q:In terms of jewellery designing, what comes first – sourcing of gems or the design?
A:  We have two processes – when we work with diamonds, we start with an idea, a sign, or an intuition. We then move to sketches and drawings, and we then create the collection. When we work with coloured gems, it is the other way around. We start with the gems and we work around them. When I travel and find a gem, I remember one of Mr Bvlgari’s first lessons: “Do not buy a beautiful gem if you don’t know how you can use it.”

So if I buy a gem, my first thought is if I can use it as a ring, or a necklace; if I can mix it with other gems that I have in stock. I have to think a lot. The first step of inspiration comes from the gem. Then, when I receive the gem in Rome, the creativity comes in. I do get inspired from all the places I travel – the Gulf region, India, Japan, and so on – but it is at my office in Rome, surrounded by our collections of gems, full of colours, energy and beauty that I work best. It is then that I start to create – playing with the gems, diamonds, colours and shapes.

Q:Does the high popularity of the Serpenti Collection overshadow your other creations?
A:No, not at all; the Serpenti is an icon. It has become a must-have piece for every Bvlgari fan. The Serpenti is complementary to our colour collections. The Diva collection though quite new is very popular. The new Serpenti collection is completely different from the past ones – we decided to work in two ways, with the head and the skin of the Serpenti. So it is in a more geometric rather than organic way and our clients have been very receptive.

Q:How difficult is it to design disparate creations such as high-end collections like Serpenti and a starting segment such as Parentesi?
A:It is very difficult; Parentesi was a successful line in the 1980s. When we decide to bring back the collection, it was quite difficult as we had to bring in a new flavour, a more contemporary feel. These two new pieces are emblematic of the changes that we have brought about in the Parentesi – a collection that I personally love because it was the one of the first collections that I saw when I first began working with Bvlgari. It is more difficult than working with gems in a free style.

Q:Is there any collaboration between the jewellery and watches teams when high-end jewellery watches for women are designed?
A:There is a Creative Director of watches. For high-end and jewellery watches for women, we talk about the collection and share our ideas. He and his team look at our drawings and our stones, so yes, we work together for the unique, high-end pieces.

Q:How does it feel to win the prestigious 2017 Gem Award for Jewelry Design?
A: I feel very honoured to receive such a special award. That is a very important event in my life. Though Bvlgari is a big company, I did not expect to win and did not know of it earlier. I am very proud of winning this – not only on behalf of the company but also for myself as a woman. I buy the gems and, in the beginning, it was very difficult for me as a woman working in a man’s world.

Q:What do you think was the turning point for Bvlgari – from a small firm to the international luxury brand today?
A:There are a few turning points: the first one was at the end of the 1990s, when we doubled the number of our stores. The next one was when the company became public; another was in 2011 when the company was acquired by LVMH, and finally in 2013 when Jean-Christophe Babin took over Bvlgari and I became the Creative Director. This is very important for me because till that moment, my job was behind the scenes; the job that I am doing now was completely new to me then.

Q:How do you feel when you are travelling somewhere and you come across somebody wearing Bvlgari?
A:I feel very proud. I feel very happy because I feel that we can give a dream to other people, especially women.