In 1884, the young Greek silversmith, Sotirios Boulgaris, opened a shop on Via Sistina in Rome. He Italianized his name to Sotirio Bulgari and the firm that represents the very essence of ‘la Dolce Vita’ was born.
For several years, Sotirio has been selling silverware, but very soon focused on fine jewelry. Later, his son Giorgio was traveling frequently to Paris, then the epicentre of jewelry design and production, to catch the styles and the techniques. The Bulgari jewelry and archives that survive from the 1920’s reveal this influence.
Sotirio died in 1932, leaving the business to his sons who proceeded to undertake a major store refurbishment with the name BVLGARI in block capitals above the door. This marked the change from the letter U to the Romanised V and was the first use of the company name as we recognise it today.
The jewelry of the 1930’s was still largely inspired by French design and diamonds and platinum dominated. The 1940’s and 50’s saw the introduction of yellow gold along with more color in the form of rubies, emeralds and sapphires which would be paired with diamonds in compact and stylized designs. It isn’t until the 60’s and 70’s that we see the regular use of cabochon stones and a far wider selection of colored gems such as tourmaline, amethyst and turquoise, often in combination, resulting in what we now think of as the ‘Bulgari style’. It is also the period that sees the introduction of a range of jewelry set with ancient coins, a style that would prove universally popular and become synonymous with the brand.