In preparation for a recent trip to Italy, I attempted to identify locally mined gemstones with the hopes of using this trip as an example of shopping locally.  Early in my research, I realized that while Italy does in fact have gemstone mines, the actual amount of rough that is cut and sold is extremely limited and impossible to acquire.  Disappointing?  Yes, but that doesn’t scratch Italy off the top of my list for designer jewelry shopping.   When hunting for jewelry in one of the fashion capitals of the world, I would just have to settle for viewing couture design with imported gemstones.

My journey started in Rome, where I viewed a number of independent shops with no shortage of inspiring designs.  In all honesty, the highlight of Rome was not a small independent designer, but the Bulgari Flagship Store located on the famously stylish Via Condotti.  Let me caveat this by saying, I actually don’t like most of the jewelry that Bulgari sells around the world.  On principle, I abhor designers that feel the need to print their names all over the merchandise as if the simple act of engraving or stitching their name makes the piece doubly desirable and, therefore, twice as costly.   Nevertheless, I did not pass up the opportunity to see, first hand, the Bulgari Flagship Store.  I was not the least bit disappointed as the viewing rooms held one-of-a-kind pieces worth half a million and up.  Not only did the flagship location carry unique designs, it also showed a stronger emphasis on gemstones than your average Bulgari store.  I was enamored with Bulgari’s use of cabochons and briolettes, cuts typically not associated with traditional precious gemstones like Sapphires and Emeralds.  While I didn’t get the chance to take pictures under the hawk-like eyes of my three sales associate stalkers, I did pull some pictures off the Bulgari website to give you a better idea of the high fashion jewelry designed by Bulgari.  Enjoy!

Rubellite Cocktail Ring accented by Mother-of-Pearl and Diamonds

Vivid Blue Sapphire Cabochons, pear-shaped Diamonds, and Emeralds

Diamond, Emerald and Tourmaline necklace suspending a fringe of briolette-cut blue and pink Beryls.