Having started her journey with Bulgari when she was just 18 years old, self-confessed ‘Indian Jones of stones’ gem hunter Lucia Silvestri embodies all the elegance and glamour that the Italian jewellery house is famous for. Showcasing the Bulgari High Jewellery Festa collection in Dubai, we took the opportunity to chat with the award-winning creative director about how she sources the stars of the show, precious gems, that have become the hallmark of Bulgari’s more elaborate coveted pieces.
Can you share with us the inspiration behind the new collection?
The name is Festa, which means celebrations, as us Italians love to celebrate. From the beginning I loved the theme as it is joyful, and we started to create the designs with a real emphasis on being happy.
Tell us about the process of choosing the stones?
In some way I feel like the Indiana Jones of stones, because I travel so extensively looking for them, especially in India and Sri Lanka. Due to the rarity of the stones, I started to work with the owners of the rough stones, asking them to re-cut them in our style, which is more flat and elegant. The first thing that I look for in the big stones is the personality, it is not enough for it to just be beautiful, it also needs to have a soul, which I can only feel through touch. One of the first lessons that I learnt from Mr Bulgari, was not to buy a stone if you don’t have a plan for using it, so I always ensure that I always have an idea for a stone before I buy it, although I will allow this idea to change. When we work with coloured gems we start with the gems, whereas when working with diamonds we start from an idea as it is easier to find diamonds.
How flexible are you with which stone to use?
We are flexible if the stone is beautiful and the colour is vivid. We are working with unusual and rare stones like spinel’s and mandarin garnets, mixing them to make different combinations of colours, and trying new cuts with them.
What inspires you when you are creating, and does your mood matter considering you are creating such happy collections?
Sometimes when I am nostalgic or sad I am still able to create something which is really special and has depth.
Which stone is you favourite to work with?
I like the energy of the emerald, so will always wear a touch of green.
What has been the hardest part of your career?
This part, the interviews! For many years my job was a secret job, so I used to work in private, and only started talking about it more recently. I have a unique role, especially being a woman buying stones and designing with them in a man’s world.
What is your most inspired part of designing?
When I am in Rome and receive all the gems which I have collected worldwide. I get inspiration everywhere, and am actually visiting the souk while in Dubai, because I need many ideas for when I sit in front of my table of gems to build my story.
What can we expect to see this year from Bulgari?
You will be seeing more inspired designs and of course many colours.
Tell us about how you started at Bulgari, and if you always dreamt of a career in jewellery?
When I was a little girl my father was working in Bulgari but not in the gems department, although at that stage I never saw myself taking the same career path. However, he proposed that I try working at Bulgari and I agreed to for just four months, and now it has been more than 35 years! When I was younger I thought I could be a fashion stylist, as I loved creating outfits with my mother.
How would you describe your personal style?
I love colours, for everyday and evening.
If there is one thing that you could change within yourself, what would it be?
I would like to be taller, with beautiful hair!
What is a quality that you most admire in women?
I like elegance and intellectual honesty.
Can you tell us something about yourself which people don’t know?
I am very unsure and not self-confident, especially in the professional world.
What book are you currently reading?
An Italian love story between a lady with a younger man. It is a new book and I thought it was interesting.
Your personal motto is, ‘follow your passion, while keeping your feet on the ground,’ how do you think this is possible?
You must believe in the values that your family gave you. So, if you have a strong family behind you, this is possible.
What do you tell yourself every morning?
I am happy that I am alive, and very lucky to have good health, with the best job!