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Extravagent Bulgari pieces debut at Houston Museum of Natural Science exhibit

The words of bespoke and masterpiece are synonymous with the Bulgari name and their longstanding tradition of exquisite jewels.

Bulgari bib necklace
Bulgari bib necklace
Valerie Sweeten

Celebrating their 130th anniversary in Rome, Bulgari recently launched the redesigned Galleria Houston store in conjunction with the Houston Museum of Natural Science exhibit, Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces, which opened to the public on May 2, 2014.

Houston Museum of Natural Science’s exhibit showcases 150 sizeable pieces of jewelry from Bulgari’s Heritage Collection including masterpieces from the historical archives of the company headquarters in Rome or on loan from private collections. This exclusive retrospective marks the first time the storied jeweler has showcased pieces representing every period since its Roman beginnings in 1884 making Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces a once in-a-lifetime event. The exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science will run through October 5, 2014.

Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO and President of Bulgari, said, “This is the most comprehensive exhibit of jewels crafted by Bulgari. It’s a journey across time with the most precious stones.”

The exhibit covers the history of Bulgari as Greek silversmith Sotirio Bulgari pioneered a level of skill and vision that set the stage for audacious designs and distinctive style that would become known as the “Italian School” of jewelry design in Rome. After the company moved to its flagship store on the prestigious Via dei Condotti in Rome in 1905, Sartirioʼs sons changed the spelling of the name to BVLGARI with the original Latin “V” of the family name.

Included in the Houston exhibition are pieces from the collection of Dame Elizabeth Taylor, who became almost as famous for her love of Bulgari jewels as for her on-screen triumphs. Other pieces in the exhibition belonged to or were worn by iconic women past and present, including Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Isabella Rossellini, Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Magnani, Juliette Binoche, Milla Jovovich, Jennifer Aniston, Claudia Schiffer, Elizabeth Hurley, Rachel Weisz, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore.

Necklaces from two of Houstonʼs most celebrated icons will also be on loan for the exhibition including Lynn Wyattʼs Bulgari necklace in white gold with yellow sapphire, lapis laguli and diamonds from 1975 that she says “could be worn with blue jeans or an evening gown,” and Joanne King Herringʼs necklace in sautoir in gold with diamonds from 1970 that she has worn to parties in the White House with six U.S. Presidents and lavish affairs with kings and queens around the world.

Also on display are powerful motifs that have forged the Bulgari legend. Among these are the renowned Serpente and Monete collections, both examples of how mythologies of the past inspired Bulgari to translate them into a contemporary language that remains current and vibrant today.

The exhibition also includes evocative portraits of some of the worldʼs most famous women wearing Bulgari jewelry on-screen and off, as well as sketches and other archival materials that bring to life a fascinating intersection of celebrity, design and fine craftsmanship.

President of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Joel Bartsch, explained that HMNS is home to one of the finest collections of natural gem crystals in the world and has a “deep appreciation” for Bulgari’s creations. “This is the finest jewel exhibit put on earth,” said Bartsch. “Absolutely nothing comes close to it. Equal parts art and science, historic and modern, Bulgari not only pays homage to the great masters of the past, they also continuously push the envelope in jewelry design and cutting-edge technology into the future when so many others are content to merely rest on their laurels.”

The redesigned store debuted with a fresh and contemporary yet luxe space with visual highlights of the boutique including a reworked 1960 Giogali crystal "hook" chandelier, along with numerous Roman handwork finishes to walls and floors, designed to evoke the spirit and feeling of the original Via Condotti store. The Galleria boutique is the only Bulgari store in Houston.

“Houston and Bulgari have long enjoyed a romance with each other,” said Bulgari USA president, Alberto Festa. “Texas women embody the same qualities of beauty and strength that inspire our designs and the new store will reflect that symbiotic relationship.”

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive. Museum Hours are Monday–Sunday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and children. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit hmns.org or call 713.639.4629.

Group ticket reservations can be made by contacting Martine Kaye, Director of Corporate Sales, via email at mkaye@hmns.org or by phone at 713-639-4768.