Bulgari Puffy Heart
21st Century and Contemporary Italian Contemporary Pendant Necklaces
Bvlgari for sale on 1stDibs
Greek silversmith Sotirios Voulgaris arrived in Rome in 1881 and set up his own shop there in 1884, calling it Bulgari, an Italianization of his last name (eventually spelled BVLGARI, using the classical Latin alphabet in a nod to ancient Roman culture). In 1905, he opened the company’s flagship boutique on Rome’s Via dei Condotti. Since then, BVLGARI has looked to Rome as a source of reference for its fanciful and decidedly romantic designs for necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other accessories.
Although the iconic jewelry house found success with its silverwork and Art Deco designs, popular through the 1920s, BVLGARI’s signature style — bold, often using yellow gold embellished with big colorful gemstones — began to emerge when Sotirios’s sons inherited the business, in 1932. The brand truly hit its stride in the dolce vita era of the 1950s and ’60s, when the founder’s grandsons Paolo, Gianni and Nicola Bulgari decisively departed from demure traditional styles to develop the house’s exuberant multi-gem looks, attracting celebrity collectors like Elizabeth Taylor.
In the 1940s, BVLGARI debuted perhaps its most famous design, the Serpenti bracelet watch. The piece’s snakelike coils were made possible by the tubogas jewelry technique, which links a flexible series of thin horizontal bands. Both the sleek, modern tubogas construction and the sinuous snake motif continue to be synonymous with the BVLGARI brand.
A Close Look at contemporary Jewelry
Contemporary jewelry is inextricably linked with the moment in which it is created, frequently reflecting current social, cultural and political issues such as environmental consciousness, identity and sustainability. It’s informed by fashion trends, from the chokers of the 1990s to the large chain necklaces of the early 2000s.
Jewelry is one of the oldest forms of adornment. Lockets made of silver or gold have been treasured gifts for hundreds of years, for example, and charm bracelets, which have existed since prehistoric times, didn’t become especially popular until the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria. For many centuries, fine jewelry was used primarily to express wealth or status through lavish materials. Then, in the 1960s, a concept known as the “critique of preciousness” emerged, with jewelers creating pieces that did not get their value from gemstones or precious metals. Instead, it was the jeweler’s artistic vision that was prized and elevated.
This shift still informs Contemporary jewelry being made by artists today. Whether they are using cheap, found materials and working with provocative geometric shapes or seeking out the rarest stones, they are imbuing their work with meaning through their skills, techniques and ideas. Innovative designers such as Elsa Peretti, who popularized sculptural sterling-silver jewelry for Tiffany & Co., and David Yurman, who twisted metal into the simple yet striking Cable bracelet, have also influenced the direction of Contemporary jewelry’s forms and aesthetics.
Meanwhile, technological advancements like metal alloys and laser engraving have led to new possibilities in jewelry design. Now, edgy makers and brands as well as minimalist designers are pushing Contemporary jewelry forward into the 21st century.
Finding the Right necklaces for You
We are fortunate to know much of the world’s long and dazzling history of necklaces, as this type of jewelry was so treasured that it was frequently buried with its owners.
Lapis lazuli beads adorned necklaces unearthed from the royal graves at the ancient Iraqi civilization of Sumer, while the excavation of King Tut’s burial chamber revealed a sense of style that led to a frenzy of Art Deco designs, with artisans of the 1920s seeking to emulate the elegant work crafted by Ancient Egypt’s goldsmiths and jewelry makers.
In ancient times, pendant necklaces worn by royalty and nobles conferred wealth and prestige. Today, wearing jewelry is about personal expression: Luxury diamond necklaces exude confidence and can symbolize the celebratory nature of a deep romantic relationship, while paper-clip chain-link necklaces designed by the likes of goldsmith Faye Kim are firmly planted in the past as well as the present. Kim works exclusively with eco-friendly gold, and these fashionable, fun accessories owe to the design of 19th-century watch fobs.
For some, necklaces are thought of as being a solely feminine piece, but this widely loved accessory has been gender-neutral for eons. In fact, just as women rarely took to wearing a single necklace during the Renaissance, men of the era layered chains and valuable pendants atop their bejeweled clothing. In modern times, the free-spirited hippie and counterculture movements of the 1960s saw costume-jewelry designers celebrating self-expression through colorful multistrand necklaces and no shortage of beads, which were worn by anyone and everyone.
Even after all of these years, the necklace remains an irrefutable staple of any complete outfit. Although new trends in jewelry are constantly emerging, the glamour and beauty of the past continue to inform modern styles and designs. In a way, the cyclical history of the necklace differs little from its familiar looped form: The celebrated French jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels found much inspiration in King Tut, and, now, their Alhambra collection is a go-to for modern royals. Vintage necklaces designed by David Webb — whose work landed him on the cover of Vogue in 1950, two years after opening his Manhattan shop — were likely inspired by the ornamental styles of ancient Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt.