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Bulgari is one of the oldest Italian jewellery houses dating back to 1884. Company was founded by Sotirio Voulgaris (later renamed to Bulgari) who is Greek immigrant to Italy. Word “Bvlgari” is a phonetic version of Voulgaris’s name. According to some sources, it also believed that this name belongs to ancient Bulgarian family of jewellers that operated in Greece between 15th and 18th centuries. Letter “v” in the company name is a brand move to reinforce the roots of Greek culture in the company goodwill.
Sotirio moved to Rome in 1880 with only 18 cents in the pocket at young age with a terrific skill to work precious metals. After working several related jobs, Sotirio opened his own shop in 1984. He laid into the foundation of the Bvlgari style trademark elements of ancient Romans and Greeks and opened a couple of stores across Italy. His sons Constantino (1889–1973) and Giorgio (1890–1966) were actively involved in the business and worked in the company their entire lives. Today representative of the fourth generation Francesco Trapani is manager of the company.
One of the most remarkable stories from Bvgari family is that Costantino Bulgari and his wife, Laura Bulgari, hid three Jewish women in their own Roman home during the World War 2. Jewish women are believed to have knocked at the door during the Roman ghetto raid in 1943. This not only shows Bulgari family integrity and dedication to their customers and co-workers many of who were Jewish, but also their humanity and courage in tough times of Mussolini power.
It took four generations of hard and creative work to bring Bvlgari to 230 retail locations worldwide. Today Bvlgari produces the expanded product line of handbags, watches, fragrances, hotels and of course luxury Bvlgari sunglasses. With a large number of advocates of the brand today, there were early adopters such as Elizabeth Taylor, whose friends joked that only word she knows in Italian is “Bulgari”. Two years ago at the 125 anniversary exhibit the whole section was dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor belongings. Among them 20 million dollar engagement ring presented to her by Richard Burton.
Bvlgari style is easily recognizable by ancient elements of Roman, Greek, Italian Renaissance and later introduced Parisian and Art Deco arts. It remains true to its roots producing jewellery and accessory items of compact rounded forms that are generously decorated with gems and various colors and combinations.