BVLGARI is a world leading luxury brand known for its fine jewellery, watches, fragrances, accessories and leather goods.
And although it ranks as one of Italy’s most prominent brands, it was in fact founded by Greek silversmith Sotirios Voulgaris, along with his sons who turned it into one of the most recognised labels worldwide.
Sotirios was born in 1857 in a small village in the Pindus Mountains in northern Greece, which was an area known for its exceptional silversmith art, a refined skill that had been passed from father to son since the Byzantine Era.
The Voulgaris’ family specialised in creating unique silver earrings, belt buckles, and sword sheaths. Sotirios was trained in his craft by his father, and he had a real artistic flair as well as a great business mind.
In 1877, Sotirios moved to Corfu island then Naples before making Rome his home in 1881.
This is when Sotirios went into partnership with a Greek sponge merchant, displaying his silver pieces among the sponges in their Via Sistina shop, near the present site of the Hassler Hotel.
Voulgaris opened his first store in Rome in 1884. As the business took off, he decided to change the name to a more Italian sounding company and that is when it became Bulgari.
Voulgaris opened the Bulgari flagship store at Via Dei Condotti 10 in 1904 with his sons, Konstantinos and Giorgios. The Bulgari store quickly built its reputation for luxurious, exceptionally well-crafted Greek and Roman-inspired designs and became popular amongst wealthy tourists visiting Rome.
After Sotirios’ death in 1932, his sons took over and gave it a fresh look and feel and introduced the pink and beige Italian marble that has become synonymous with the brand.
The brothers also changed the logo to BVLGARI and the brand officially took off.
In 1967, the third generation of Voulgaris brothers, Giorgios’ three sons, took over the Bulgari business. Throughout the 1970s, Bulgari expanded internationally, opening stores in New York and Paris and gained a celebrity following from style icons such as Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Fast forward to 2011 and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH) acquired the family-controlled Bulgari company for an incredible $6 billion USD, the highest amount LVMH had previously ever offered for any other company.