BVLGARI, the magnificent Italian Jeweler since 1884
Bulgari ranks as one of Italy’s most prominent fine jewelry and luxury brands, expanding from silver jewelry into a myriad of categories including a chain of hotels. We look back at the history of the Bulgari brand, from its origins in a humble Greek village to its rise in popular culture, and get to the bottom of exactly why its logo is, not Bulgari, but BVLGARI.
Born in 1857, Sotirio Voulgaris hailed from a small village in the Pindus Mountains in northern Greece. For generations this area was known for its exceptional silversmith art, a refined skill that had been passed from father to son since the Byzantine Era. Naturally, Voulgaris’s family were also silversmiths who specialized in unique silver earrings, belt buckles, and sword sheaths. And in this same tradition, Voulgaris was trained in his ancestors’ craft, but he distinguished himself as a real artist and entrepreneur. Voulgaris worked alongside his father in the Epirus region, further honing and perfecting his innate silversmith skills.
In 1877, Voulgaris moved to Corfu, an island off Greece’s northwest coast, then Naples before finally taking root in the rapidly modernizing city of Rome in 1881. Voulgaris opened his first store in Rome in 1884. As his business grew, Voulgaris Italianized his name to Bulgari, the phonetic version of his Greek family name, and adopted Bulgari as his company’s name.
Voulgaris opened the Bulgari flagship at Via Dei Condotti 10 in 1904 with his sons, Constantino and Giorgio. The prime address was meant to appeal to well-heeled British and American tourists visiting Rome. The Bulgari store quickly built its reputation for luxurious, exceptionally well-crafted Greek and Roman-inspired jewelry designs.