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Bulgari is the Lord of the Rings

Bulgari celebrates 20 years of the B.Zero1 line of jewelry and unveils a contemporary new collection

The year 2019 is a momentous one for the Italian house of Bulgari. Not only does the brand celebrate its 135th anniversary, but it also honors the 20th anniversary of one of its most iconic fine jewelry collections: B.Zero1. As such, Bulgari is unveiling—at various stages over the course of this year—a host of new B.Zero1 jewelry items that recall the brand’s timeless designs reinterpreted with classic yet visionary appeal.

Founded in 1884 by Sotirios Voulgaris, a Greek silversmith who relocated to Italy and set up shop in Rome as Bulgari, the Maison Bulgari is renowned for its vast procurement of some of the world’s most magnificent colored gemstones and for its exacting and impressive handcraftsmanship. Drawing on its rich heritage for inspiration, Bulgari regularly produces some of the most dazzling one-of-a-kind haute joaillerie pieces, as well as top-of-the-line complex and jeweled watches, and an incredible series of fine jewelry that ranges from the brand’s Bulgari Bulgari line to the mystifying Serpenti series and the beloved B.Zero1.

When the first B.Zero1 five-band ring, inspired by Rome’s great Colosseum, was introduced to the world in 1999, its fluid geometric lines and amphitheater design—combined with creative new goldsmithing techniques—made it an immediate hit. For that first collection, Bulgari’s master artisans took its already beloved Tubogas gold concept (wherein a single gas pipe–like strand of flexible gold winds around to form a single bracelet or ring) and combined it with a hollow cylindrical core. The result was a piece of jewelry that alternated flexible spiral gold with hollow spaces for even greater pliability and appeal.

The collection was so successful that in the ensuing 20 years, Bulgari regularly evolved the B.Zero1, often working with some of the finest artistic minds—including the late architect Zaha Hadid and the sculptor Anish Kapoor—to unveil stunning new editions. To date, more than 2 million
B.Zero1 rings have been sold, including a special series earmarked for the brand’s global partnership with Save the Children. For that project, Bulgari created a B.Zero1 Save the Children collection that has raised more than $85 million for the charity.

Bulgari creates its own gold beads to make its gold jewelry.

Bulgari creates its own gold beads to make its gold jewelry.

B.zero1 20th Anniversary Collection

In honor of the 20th anniversary of this globally known collection, Bulgari is unveiling several new designs throughout the year, the first of which is a reissue of the original five-band B.Zero1 ring in bold iterations that embody the brand’s long-standing philosophy of being daring and unconventional. The new limited edition pieces include five rows of ribbons of gold with slim hollow space between each band. The most dazzling of the rings is the 18-karat white gold five-band spiral with three inner rings set with diamonds. The five-band ring is also created in high-polished-finish 18-karat yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold without diamonds. The endcap of each five-band ring features the Bulgari Bulgari logo, and on the inner ferrule of each ring there is an XX Anniversary laser inscription. There are also new B.Zero1 ultrathin bangles that are light and can be easily stacked. They’re created using long, thin strips of gold that are wrapped around a spool and interlocked with a wire between the strips.

Another new introduction is the reinterpretation of the B.Zero1 Design Legend ring that was created in collaboration with Hadid and unveiled in 2017. That design was inspired by the original B.Zero1 five-band ring but featured crisscrossed lines reminiscent of Hadid’s architectural style. Now, Bulgari reinterprets that B.Zero1 Design Legend look in 18-karat rose gold, but instead of hollows between the crisscrosses, there is rich black or white ceramic, adding color and flair. These designs are being created in a ring and a pendant, and as a rose gold bangle in black ceramic and in pavé diamonds.

Also, as part of the 20th Anniversary Collection, Bulgari brings contemporary model Bella Hadid on board for its new marketing campaign, shot by famed photographer Mario Sorrenti. Hadid strikes a host of poses designed to epitomize her attitude and that of B.Zero1: powerful, different, and eye-catching from across a crowded room.

The process of crafting Bulgari BZero.1 rings starts with wax molds and casts; then the elements are heated, blended for the proper hue of gold, and formed into thin wires that are carefully worked to create the tubelike effect. (photo credit: David Atlan)

The Making of the Bulgari B.zero1 Collection

The new B.Zero1 designs are edgy yet classic, bold yet elegant, and always quintessentially Roman in their heritage. That final aspect is important, as Bulgari mandates that the brand always embrace its rich Roman roots and its continual quest to remain both legendary and visionary.

A visit to the brand’s jewelry workshops in Valenza, Italy, yields a greater understanding of the craftsmanship and inspiration that guides the brand. The state-of-the-art workshops—opened in 2017—combine two buildings (with an open courtyard), where approximately 700 artisans work side by side to create Bulgari’s fine jewelry. The workshops have a unique organization that includes fine jewelry making, manufacturing of B.Zero1 and Tubogas, and an academy to teach the art of jewelry making.

For the B.Zero1 and Tubogas pieces, thin ropes of gold are created in the gold labs. Those ropes go daily to a special artisan department, where they are compressed to form thinner and thinner wires. The new gold strands are monitored for exact shape and thickness, and always checked for rigidity. When the strands are perfect, they are used to create the Tubogas. A single kilo of rope—when finally worked—will yield 80 meters of fine string. That string is then hand threaded into a special machine, as is a row of copper wire. The gold and copper are then turned around and around a spool to shape the ring. Later, the copper wire is removed, yielding the open space between the gold that gives the B.Zero1 ring its “spring” movement. This is the painstaking process being celebrated in the B.Zero1 20th Anniversary Collection this year.

As Bulgari celebrates its 135th anniversary, the brand regularly underscores that it is not afraid to push the envelopes of technology, creativity, and craftsmanship to deliver jewelry that remains incomparable in design and excellence.