Dust Off the Tiara, BVLGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces Exhibit Opens at HMNS

and this is just the entrance...EXPAND
and this is just the entrance...
Photos by Keith Luter, Jr.

Bulgari, in partnership with the Houston Museum of Natural Science, has debuted BVLGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces. The one of a kind showcase of Bulgari pieces from the early days of founder Sotirio Bulgari to the modern era will run through to October 5.

The party started last week with the star-studded Roman gala hosted at the museum in a setting inspired by the Eternal City. Over 200 guests, including Nicola Bulgari, Vice Chairman of Bulgari, Oscar nominated actress Naomi Watts and NFL superstar JJ Watt glammed the night away surrounded by gems.

Actress Naomi Watts (left) and Houstonian Lynn Wyatt (right)
Actress Naomi Watts (left) and Houstonian Lynn Wyatt (right)
Photo Courtesy of Bulgari

I must admit, I was a bit surprised that an international design house like Bulgari wanted to celebrate its 130th birthday here in Houston. Why not New York, or Los Angeles? I wasn't the only one wondering about the choice, as media from across the city gathered for a little sneak peek Thursday morning. Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin was on hand to explain why he believed Houston was right for this exhibition:

"Houston is a mirror of Bulgari values - it's a bold, powerful, daring entrepreneur city, always forward thinking in exactly what Bulgari stands for in the world of jewelry, so it's a great match."

He went on to say that Houston Museum of Natural Sciences (HMNS), known for its impressive collection of raw gems, was the perfect fit for such an occasion and HMNS President, CEO, and Curator of Gems and Minerals Joel Bartsch agreed:

"We have such an extensive collection of gems in raw form, now we can show patrons the finished product through this exhibition," Bartsch remarked as guests began filing into the exhibit space.

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Any left over skeptics were quieted once the curtain was drawn and the collection was finally on display. Nearly 150 pieces from the vaults of Bulgari, private collections, and loaned pieces from local collectors Lynn Wyatt, Joanne King Herring, and Christina Girard filled multiple darkened rooms.

Each vignette was designed to represent a particular decade in the history of the brand. One feels like you are walking through time as familiar motifs, like the '70s red, white, and blue collection celebrating America's bicentennial, guide you through the years.

Created to celebrate America's upcoming bicentennial and worn by Cher in Dec 1972 VogueEXPAND
Created to celebrate America's upcoming bicentennial and worn by Cher in Dec 1972 Vogue
Those are ancient Roman coins in the center!EXPAND
Those are ancient Roman coins in the center!
Created in the 80s, but the colors probably gave that awayEXPAND
Created in the 80s, but the colors probably gave that away

Multimedia displays featuring behind the scenes images and footage of designers at work dot the exhibition. Movie rooms screened short films chock full of past and present celebrities adorned in Bulgari pieces.

One particular celebrity, Elizabeth Taylor, was a well known collector of Bulgari pieces, so much so, that an entire room is dedicated to the late star and her love affair with the brand. A stunning sapphire pendant necklace owned by the Taylor - a birthday gift from Richard Burton - steals the show.

Nice birthday!EXPAND
Nice birthday!

BVLGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces blew me away and will surely be a popular addition to the museum's already existing exhibitions. A must see on my list for those who love fashion and those who just like to gawk at fine jewelry. All are welcome.

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