Aug 5, 2010

Nikos Deja Vu - BVLGARI JEWELER HISTORY - Did you know that they are Greeks?


The Bulgari's descent from an ancient family of Greek silversmiths whose activity began in a small village of Epirus, where Sotirio, the founder of the family, made precious objects in silver. In 1879 Sotirio emigrated to Italy and after a few months spent in Naples he finally moved to Rome. At the very beginning he sold his objects in front of the French Academy on the Pincio. Then a Greek merchant offered to let him display his objects in a corner of the window of his shop, placed at the beginning of Via Sistina. Sotirio was very successful; thanks to the original style of the ornaments he was selling.

After a few months Sotirio was able to open his first store in the same street. In 1894 he moved to 28 Via Condotti. In 1905 he moved the store to Via dei Condotti 10. It was called "Old Curiosity Shop" from the title of a Charles Dickens novel. This name was chosen in order to attract British and American tourists. In these years Sotirio started to sell an increased selection of jewels and accessories for personal embellishment. As business in Rome during the summer months was very quiet, Sotirio decided to capitalize on trade at summer resorts. He settled for St. Moritz, where he was successful. In the succeeding years, other subsidiaries were opened and run by Sotirio's relatives. However, after a while, he realized the necessity of concentrating his business in one location in order to excel in the art of jewellery and silver making. He therefore focused on his Rome store.

The first decades of the 20th century were important for Sotirio's sons, Giorgio and Costantino, who developed a passionate interest in precious stones and jewels and learnt the secrets of the trade, gradually taking over their father's role. In 1934, a few months after Sotirio's death, the Via Condotti store was enlarged and refurbished. This new store was inaugurated on the 9th of April 1934 and it was so successful that both its façade and its interior served to illustrate the entry "negozio" in the Enciclopedia Treccani, the most important Italian encyclopaedia. The period following the Second World War marked an important turning point in Bvlgari history. In fact, it is during this period that Bvlgari moves away from the strict disciplines of the dominant French school to create its own unique style inspired by Greek and Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and the 19th century Roman school of goldsmiths.

1970's marked the beginning of Bvlgari's international expansion with the opening of stores in New York (the first overseas), Paris, Geneva, and Monte Carlo, building towards the over 155 stores Bvlgari has today. It was also in this decade that Bvlgari introduced the Bvlgari-Bvlgari, which was to become a successful watch classic. Bvlgari Time was established in Neuch&acric;tel - Switzerland in the early 80's for the creation and production of all Bvlgari watch lines. In 1984 the sons of Giorgio, Paolo Bulgari and Nicola Bulgari, become respectively Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Their nephew, Francesco Trapani, is nominated Chief Executive Officer.

The 1990's represented another turning point. Bvlgari implemented the diversification strategy with the introduction of fragrances and accessories and gave further boost to its international expansion by having the Holding Company Bvlgari S.p.A. listed on the Stock Exchange. Today the Bvlgari creations, renowned for the distinctive, bold and contemporary style, are highly appreciated by an international clientele fond of high quality and unique design.



Bulgari (BIT: BUL) is an Italian jeweler and luxury goods retailer. The trademark is usually written "BVLGARI" in ancient Roman style, and is derived from the surname of the company's Greek founder, Sotirios Boulgaris (Greek: Σωτήριος Βούλγαρης) (1857–1932). Although the company made a name for itself with jewelry, today it is a recognized luxury brand that markets several product lines including watches, handbags, fragrances, accessories, and hotels.

Early history

Sotirios Voulgaris (Greek: Σωτήριος Βούλγαρης; Italian: Sotirio Bulgari) began his career as a jeweller in his home village Kalarites (Epirus, Greece), where his first store is still to be seen. In 1877 he left for Corfu and then Naples. In 1881 he finally moved to Rome, where in 1884 he founded his company and opened his second shop in via Sistina.

The current flagship store in via dei Condotti was opened in 1905 by Bulgari with the help of his two sons, Constantino (1889–1973) and Giorgio (1890–1966). The store quickly became a place where the world's rich and famous came for the unique, high quality jewelry designs combining Greek and Roman art.

During the Second World War, Costantino Bulgari and his wife, Laura Bulgari, hid three Jewish women in their own Roman home. They were strangers to them; the Bulgaris opened their doors out of outrage for the raid of the Roman ghetto in October 1943. For their generous action, on 31 December 2003, they were awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

International expansion

Bulgari opened its first international locations in New York City, Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo in the 1970s. For many years the company maintained a showroom in New York's The Pierre Hotel. Today Bulgari has more than 230 retail locations worldwide.

In 1984 Sotirios' grandsons Paolo and Nicola Bulgari were named Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the company and nephew Francesco Trapani was named CEO. Trapani's goal to diversify the company was started in the early 1990s with the release of the Bulgari perfume line. Under his tenure the company has established itself as a luxury goods brand recognized throughout the world.

In 1995 the company was listed on the Borsa Italiana. The company has seen 150% revenue growth between 1997 and 2003. Currently outside investors hold about 45% of the company's stock.

In the beginning of 2001 Marriott International formed a joint venture with Bulgari Spa to launch a new luxury hotel brand, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts. Luxury Group, the Luxury Division of Marriott operates Bulgari Hotels & Resorts as well as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Bulgari opened its first hotel in Milan in 2004, and a second in Bali in 2006. Bulgari is the supplier of luxury goods used in guest suites and public areas aboard the ships of the Italian cruise company Silversea.


Bulgari jewelry design is distinctive and often imitated (and counterfeited). In the 1970s, many of the more expensive Bulgari pieces (such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings) were characterized by instantly recognizable, bold, almost brutal designs combining large and weighty gold links with black-surfaced steel. Genuine Bulgari items usually have a unique serial number that is registered with the company.

The environmental group WWF rated a number of luxury brands for sustainable practices in a report called Deeper Luxury, Bulgari came ninth out of the ten brands with the lowest possible rating (F).


North America : North American Bulgari boutiques are found in Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Bal Harbour, Boca Raton, Boston, Chevy Chase, Chicago, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Honolulu, Houston, New York, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Montreal, Palm Beach, San Francisco, and Waikiki. An 18th location has been confirmed to open in Scottsdale, Arizona in April 2009.

South America : South American Bulgari boutiques are found in Bogota, Sao Paulo & Quito.


The company's Swiss subsidiary, Bulgari Time S.A., is responsible for Bulgari watch production. It was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in Neuchatel. Bulgari Time SA employs about 500 people.

Today, Bulgari watches make up approximately 29% of the company's total turnover. Bulgari has started developing its own calibers and parts, including highly complicated mechanisms and basic calibers. The Bulgari watch collection comprises the following lines: Bulgari-Bulgari, Assioma, Rettangolo, Ergon, and Diagono.

At BaselWorld 2006 Bulgari unveiled the complicated Assioma Multi Complication watch, equipped with tourbillon, perpetual calendar and second time zone.

In the 2002 film Minority Report Tom Cruise's character wears a futuristic Bulgari watch with an OLED face.

A Bulgari DIAGONO COMPLICATION is also worn by Tony Stark in the 2008 film Ironman.

Historical Milestones

1857 Sotirio Bulgari was born in Greece where he becomes a silversmith.

1879 Sotirio moves to Rome and begins selling silver at Trinità dei Monti.

1894 The business is transferred to a shop in via dei Condotti 28.

1905 The Bvlgari store in Via Condotti 10 opens, to become the Bvlgari historic flagship store.

1932 Sotirio passes away leaving the business in the hands of his two sons, Giorgio and Costantino, who developed a passionate interest in precious stones and jewels.

1960s Bvlgari moves away from the strict disciplines of the dominant French school to create its own unique style inspired by Greek and Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance and the 19th century Roman school of goldsmiths. Besides jewels of extraordinary importance and value - the unique pieces of the Bvlgari Collection Internationale - Bvlgari introduces throughout the decades successful jewellery lines ranging from Parentesi to Tubogas, Spiga, Trika to mention a few. Bvlgari's latest introduction is Lucea.

1970-79 Stores are opened in New York, Geneva, Montecarlo and Paris. This marks the beginning of the Group's international expansion. Presently there are over 140 stores worldwide.

1977 The Bvlgari-Bvlgari watch is created, a model that is now considered a classic and continues to be Bvlgari's bestseller. In the early 1980's, Bvlgari Time is founded in Switzerland to manage the creation and production of all Bvlgari watches. Bvlgari today has a wide assortment of watches that includes several lines of classic, sport and precious timepieces.

1984 The sons of Giorgio, Paolo Bulgari and Nicola Bulgari, become respectively Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Their nephew, Francesco Trapani, is nominated Chief Executive Officer.

1993 Bvlgari's first fragrance, Eau Parfumée, Cologne au thé vert, is launched internationally.
It's the first step towards a new company strategy: diversification. Bvlgari today carries seven lines of fragrances.

1995 On July 17th, the Holding Company Bvlgari Spa is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange. It is now also traded at the IRS of London Stock Exchange.

1996 Bvlgari further develops its diversification strategy by introducing silk creations in Italy.

1997 The silk collections are launched worldwide. An agreement with Luxottica is signed for the production and distribution of eyewear.

1998 In July Bvlgari signs a six-year exclusive license agreement with Rosenthal (part of Waterford Wedgwood Group) to design, produce and market a new table and giftware range worldwide under the Bvlgari trademark starting 1999.

2000 In June Bvlgari reaches an agreement with The Hour Glass for the acquisition of Gérald Genta S.A. And Daniel Roth S.A., Swiss leader in high-end watch making. The acquisition gives rise to a new company: Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta Haute Horologerie S.A.

2001 Bvlgari announces the creation of Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts, a joint venture between Bvlgari and the Luxury Group, which manages The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

(photo: Bulgari Family)

Bulgari S.p.A.
Type Societa per azioni (BIT: BUL)
Industry Luxury goods
Founded 1884
Headquarters Rome, Italy
Key people Paolo Bulgari (Chairman), Francesco Trapani (CEO)
Products Watches, jewellery, accessories, fragrances, cosmetics
Revenue €926.6 million (2009)
Operating income €19.8 million (2009)
Profit €47.1 million (2009)
Employees 3,950 (2009)

Nikos Deja Vu

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