Find out how Bulgari created this 93.83-carat emerald necklace
Bulgari has honored its flagship stone from its latest high jewelry collection in a new documentary film detailing the making of the extraordinary piece.
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inside the dream, which premiered this week at the Toronto International Film Festival, is headlined by appearances from eight current “it” girls – actresses Zendaya, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, model Lily Adridge, fashion icon fashion Chiara Ferragni and singer Lalisa – but the real star of the show is a 93.83 carat emerald in the Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald necklace. The film begins in Jaipur, where it follows longtime Bulgari creative director Lucia Silvestri as she visits gem dealers who welcome her like an old friend of the family. It quickly cuts to a scene where Silvestri rejects batch after batch of gems, none of which have been deemed suitable for Bulgari. Picking up three small cases containing sets of precious stones, Silvestri examines them before saying decisively to the merchant: “No, no, no”. She looks up politely but expectantly as if to say, “I expect only the best.” The croupier scrambles.
So what did it take to get a “yes” from Bulgari’s demanding artistic director? A rough emerald of 21,000 carats that the dealer agrees to cut for Bulgari, while the family business has kept it for 25 years. “We can only cut that for something very special,” he explains. “Our family has been in this business for 50 years and we’ve never seen anything like it.” The resulting 93.83-carat rock, which before the cut weighed just under nine pounds (compared to “the size of a baby” in the film) not only results in the nearly 100-carat oval cabochon set in the Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald, but two or three other 100 carat gems and 15 or 20 satellite emeralds weighing between 10 and 30 carats each.
The film then follows the production of the jewel at Bulgari’s “jewelry laboratory” in Rome, where it is incorporated into a massive torchon-style necklace designed in a ribbon-style swirl set with diamonds and smaller emeralds. It culminates in a massive serpent’s head set with precious stones, the mouth of which contains the heavy emerald. From there, the necklace finds its way to the neck of actress Zendaya, who wore it at the Cannes International Film Festival last year. According to Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, the necklace “stole the show from our main competitor, the festival sponsor. [Cartier].” The necklace has since sold for $3.5 million.
“We thought it would be amazing to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at fine jewelry,” says Babin. “We felt that the luxury industry, especially when it comes to jewelry, is obsessed with the red carpet, the event where something is presented to customers and the media as a finished masterpiece, but they have next to no idea what it takes until you get there.It takes 1,000 hours just to cut the gem, and then another 2,200 hours of labor for its final setting.
For those looking to better understand why fine jewelry is so astronomical, Inside of Dream, produced by Terminal9 Studios and directed by Matthieu Menu, can be seen on Prime Video. Bulgari is now an official sponsor of the Toronto International Film Festival, which hopefully means there will be more extraordinary jewelry tales in the future.
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