From dazzling jewels, bewildering fragrances, cutting edge fashion and now luxury hotels, Bulgari is the epitome of Italian style.
Dating back to 1894, the company was founded by a Greek immigrant to Italy, named Sotirio Voulgaris, opening his first store on the Via Sistina in Rome.
With Italians unable to pronounce his name correctly, Voulgaris decided to change it using the phonetic spelling of Bulgari, with his decedents later replacing the u with a v to emphasise the family’s Greek roots.
In 1905, Bulgari opened what would become his flagship store on the historic Via Condotti, a store which today still retains its place as the jeweller’s vitrine.
What separates Bulgari from other jewellers, is the company’s trademark style of basing their designs on 2,700 years of Greco-Roman history.
Innovative, bold, contemporary and audacious are all ways of describing how Bulgari has stayed at the forefront, of what is today a very competitive marketplace.
One of Bulgari’s most famous clients, Richard Burton, once joked while filming Cleopatra in Rome, “The only word Liz knows in Italian is Bulgari”. This was of course in reference to Elizabeth Taylor’s love of jewellery.
Now into their fourth generation of family ownership, the Bulgari Empire consists of 290 retail locations around the globe, making the company the third largest jeweller in the world behind Cartier and Tiffany.
In 1975 Bulgari jumped on the technological bandwagon, producing a digital watch for 100 of the company’s best clients, and while the design and precious metals used were true to Bulgari’s style, the digital technology used in the watch can now be bought for a few pounds.
Fortunately, this move into horology saw Bulgari team up with Swiss watch designer Gérald Genta, asking him to design a classic timepiece that would be true to the company’s origins.
Not only did Genta deliver a classic design, he also paved the way with his embellishment of the Bulgari name on the bezel for other fashion houses to follow suit.
This labelling, or branding of a product spurned a generation of other companies to emblazon their name on high-end expensive goods.
What Genta did, by inscribing Bvlgari on the bezel, was to provide a way for Bulgari’s customers to show off that they could afford to have a very expensive watch, cheaper perhaps than buying a Ferrari, but nevertheless just as effective.
In the early 1990’s Bulgari launched their first fragrance Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, (Green Tea) a favourite of Broadway and film star Amanda Seyfried.
The perfume is described as having an initial rush of citrus notes, before a whiff of honey being dipped into a bitter-lime infused green tea awakens your senses.
Bulgari decided to take the company public in 1995, listing on the Borsa Italiana, where it experienced steady growth for a decade, before being bought up by Louis Vuitton for a staggering £4 billion in March of 2011.
Now under the umbrella of the massive LVMH group, Bulgari entered into a partnership with Marriott International and their Ritz-Carlton brand in 2001. The aim was to create a collection of luxury hotels in major gateway cities, as well as luxury resort destinations.
By picking only the best locations in high-end neighbourhoods, and branding the properties with the timeless glamour of the Roman jeweller, Marriott hopes to make their signature hotels the place where the jet-set go to mingle.
Currently, there are four Bulgari hotels in Milan, London, Tokyo and Bali, with Moscow, Shanghai and Dubai all on the drawing board.
Contact and location
Terminal 2, after security
Opening hours: 05:30 – 22:00
+44 (0)20 8976 7570
Terminal 3, after security
Opening hours: 06:00 – 22:00
+44 (0)20 8757 1286
Terminal 4, after security
Opening hours: 06:00 – 22:00
+44 (0)20 8897 2373