Jewellery made from or incorporating coins goes back to ancient times. In a May 17, 2019 article, the Financial Times profiles the Bulgari
family of Rome and their famous line of coin jewellery. -Editor
There is a subtle irony in the fact that money, the very thing that allows us to amass material goods, is itself becoming immaterial. We
pay via QR codes, face recognition or by hovering our phones over contactless devices. And just as currency is now coded rather than minted,
jewellery is rediscovering the fashion of using coins as gems.
Bulgari has had a long-running love affair with ancient coins, which frequently appear as centrepieces in rings, necklaces, brooches and even
watches, forming part of a collection the Italian house refers to as Monete (coins in Italian). In the house's latest high jewellery collection, Wild
Pop, the profile of the Roman emperor Claudius, who reigned from 41 to 54AD, shines from a bronze coin set centre stage in a golden belt.
Based in Rome, the Bulgari family was familiar with the most artistically significant coin jewellery - that crafted by the Roman jeweller
Castellani, who spearheaded the "archaeological revival" movement in the mid-19th century as Hellenistic, Egyptian and Etruscan art and artefacts
surfaced from excavations and were paid homage to in the arts. It was in the 1960s that Bulgari, which had already set coins in precious objects such
as cigarette cases, began to make them a feature of the house's narrative. Nicola Bulgari, grandson of the founder Sotirios Bulgari and
vice-president of the Bulgari Group, developed a passion for the numismatic and started to set coins in yellow gold tubogas bracelets and necklaces
as a stylish way to reference the family's Greek and Roman roots.
"I'm very attached to Monete," says Lucia Silvestri, creative director at Bulgari, who joined the house in the 1980s and discovered the world of
ancient coins through working directly with Nicola Bulgari. "I like to incorporate coins representing a male figure into a piece of jewellery for its
contrast between the virility of the image and the femininity of the object," says Silvestri. A stern profile of Julius Caesar, the first ruler in
Roman history to show his image on a denarius, in 44BC, dominates one yellow-gold, classic tubogas bracelet.
Frank and Barbara Sinatra wearing her Bulgari necklace with 1857 $1 gold
Jewellery senior specialist at Sotheby's Carol Elkins last December took care of the sale of a platinum and diamonds Bulgari necklace set with an
1857 United States $1 gold coin belonging to Barbara Sinatra. It sold for $62,500 against an estimate of $20,000. "Judging from the sales at auction
of coin jewellery, I'd say there's definitely a renewed interest in the genre," says Elkins who says the style appeals to a broad audience because
"they have an interesting look, show cultural heritage and are interesting pieces of conversation".
To read the complete article, see:
Coining it in: the rise of numismatic jewellery
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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