Founded in: 1884
Headquarters: Rome, Italy
Company Website: bulgari.com
Bulgari was founded in Rome by Greek silversmith Sotirio Boulgaris. In Italian, his last name is Bulgari, and that is the name the company has held ever since. Sotirio was a successful jeweler, and opened his first storefront in 1884. In modern times, you may see the Bulgari name written in the classical Latin alphabet as BVLGARI.
Bulgari has long been known as a purveyor of fine jewelry made with precious and semi-precious stones. Their pieces have been worn by many Hollywood celebrities throughout the decades. Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergman wore Bulgari, and more recently, Zendaya and Keira Knightley, just to name a few. Bulgari became particularly famous for their cabochon-shaped gems. That is, gemstones that are shaped and polished, as opposed to faceted.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, Bulgari design changed to include bolder colors. According to ‘The Jewellery Editor’, “Bold combinations of coloured stones, cabochon-shaped gems, daring volumes and smooth, simple shapes offered an exciting and exotic new choice in a time when …more traditional designs dominated the market.”
While Bulgari has always been known for its high quality jewelry, they have also branched out into selling perfumes, watches, and leather goods. They even opened Bulgari-branded hotels around the world. It’s now an internationally-recognized producer of luxury goods, with an annual revenue of $1.5 billion. They boast more than 150 stores around the world.
What about their bags? Fear not. Bulgari has been producing bags for about a decade – just a short time in the company’s history. The bags are no less luxurious for their newer status.
Serpenti Forever Bags
The Serpenti Forever line features several styles of handbag that are available in many colors. Every bag is hand-stitched and hand-crafted, and each features a serpent head clasp or pullers. These latches are a callback to their 1940’s Serpenti bracelet-watches, which are still in production today. Each bag also includes precious or semi-precious gems – part of what makes their handbags unique and luxurious.
This Maxi Chain bag is a modern interpretation of the time-honored handbag shape. Its versatile design includes a removable handle chain, and comes with a crossbody strap. The clasp, in unique Bulgari fashion, is shaped like a serpent’s head. This modern yet classic handbag is available in a variety of colors.
The Après Tennis Serpenti Bag continues the longstanding tradition of serpent visuals in Bulgari products. Look closely at the clasp, and you’ll see snake eyes made of green malachite. The bag itself is made of calf leather with a wooden handle. The handle is removable, and the bag also comes with an adjustable leather strap.
Another beautiful example of a Serpenti bag, this one with stylized hand-stitching. This handbag’s lines and symmetry accentuate the snakehead clasp, which is gold-plated and studded with malachite eyes. The inside features two open pockets, two zippered compartments, and includes a small mirror, so you’re always prepared to touch up your lipstick.
The Serpenti Forever Jewelry Box offers a completely different style of bag. Known as a ‘tennis jewelry box’, this bag is the result of a collaboration between Bulgari and Casablanca. In place of the serpent head clasp, the box features two pullers, which are decorated like serpent scales. It comes with adjustable and removable handles and a cross-body strap. There’s even a secret compartment at the base of the box.
Bulgari boasts some of the highest quality luxury products on the market. And in keeping with their serpentine roots, you can even purchase bags made of snake leather at Bulgari – they offer both python and karung leather. More exotic leathers are available as well, including crocodile, lizard, and galuchat (shark or stingray).
Other serpent-themed items continue to grace the pages of Bulgari’s offerings. You can adorn yourself with serpent-inspired necklaces, bracelets, and watches, each made with Bulgari’s iconic quality and attention to detail.
Genuine Bulgari bags typically run from about $3000 and up. You can buy authentic Bulgari handbags second-hand, but beware of fakes and deals that are too good to be true. Authentic Bulgari bags are made with very high-quality materials, from the leather to the zippers. They typically have an authenticity tag, and sometimes even a serial number. One tell-tale sign: if the stitching is uneven, it’s fake. Bulgari bags are always stitched precisely. Be sure to check the stitching on both the inside and outside.
Bulgari leather goods are a wonder to behold, and it’s a pleasure to own one. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Bulgari retail store, stop in and gaze upon these items of craft and beauty. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can afford to buy one, by all means, go for it.