Commonly considered the most famous jewellery house in Italy, the firm of Bulgari was founded by Sotirio Bulgari, who was born in 1857 in Greece and was a descendant of silversmiths.
In 1879, he moved to Rome where he opened his first shop in the Via Sistina and then in 1905, he moved to the Via dei Condotti. Upon Sotirio’s death in 1932, his sons Giorgio and Consantino took over the business. They are credited with creating the highly distinctive “Bulgari” style, inspired by Greek and Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance and the 19th century Roman school of goldsmiths. The 1920s and 1930s saw a consolidation of Bulgari as coveted jeweller to Hollywood stars, royal families, members of the aristocracy, politicians and heads of state. Their international high regard and powerful devotees would also help them through the war years and see them avoid expropriation of their property due to their Greek heritage. After the war, the 1950s heralded a return to the elegance and glamour of the 1930s, as Europe tried to erase the memories of conflict. For the high jewellery world, this meant a resurgence of white metals and diamonds, mirroring the classic designs of the 1930s such as buckles and wide bracelets, but adding the influence of other trends of the 1950s such as straps and woven fabric motifs. The 1970s marked the beginning of Bulgari’s international expansion with the opening of stores in New York (the first overseas), Paris, Geneva, and Monte Carlo, building towards the over 155 stores open today. It was also in this decade that Bulgari introduced the Bulgari-Bulgari which was to become a successful watch classic. Bulgari Time was established in the early 80’s in Neuchâtel, Switzerland for the creation and production of all Bulgari watch lines. In 1984 the sons of Giorgio, Paolo and
Nicola, became respectively Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Their nephew, Francesco Trapani, was nominated Chief Executive. Trapani can be given credit for spearheading Bulgari as the international luxury brand that it is today, amongst other things, releasing the brand’s luxury perfume line in the 1990s. In the beginning of 2001, Bulgari Spa formed a joint venture with Luxury Group - the Luxury Division of Marriott International which also manages The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. to launch a new luxury hotel brand, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts. Bulgari opened its first hotel in Milan in 2004, a resort in Bali in 2006 and another hotel in London in 2012. In October 2011, the company was bought by French powerhouse LVMH and now has a network of roughly 300 stores worldwide, the largest being the Bulgari store in the 10-story Bulgari Ginza Tower in Tokyo, 940 square meters of retail floor space, including a restaurant and lounge bar.