Few jewellers have etched their aesthetic as distinctly as Bulgari. Whether it’s the slithering, embracing charm of the Serpenti jewellery and watches, or the tough-love appeal of a ceramic and rose gold B.zero 1 ring, there is no mistaking a piece from the Roman atelier. This time around, as an India-exclusive, it has come out with the Bulgari mangalsutra—a central diamond pendant flanked by smaller discs of black onyx, all encased in the double-logo gold circles that characterise the Bvlgari Bvlgari and B. zero1 lines, together, suspended from a chain dotted with black onyx beads. It’s simple and striking (you’ll spot it on Bulgari’s latest global ambassador, the actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, on our cover this month). And it’s likely to find takers in wearers that would otherwise not be drawn to a traditional badge of marital status as they straddle their Yeezys and Ganni—Indian women who like their traditions but don’t want to always wear them on their sleeves or around their necks.
“The way I’m wearing it is the way I suggest one could wear it,” says Lucia Silvestri, jewellery creative director of Bulgari, when I speak to her on Zoom from Chennai on a sultry July afternoon. Her way is to layer it—with a Bulgari ‘Tubogas’ necklace and a sautoir from the brand. Minimal and consequently versatile, the Bulgari mangalsutra is a piece that will take as kindly to being paired with a jadau heirloom as a pearl string with a resin heart charm. “Wear it to the office, on a vacation… Especially for the younger generation, you get creativity and the quality.”
A LOVE STORY
The mangalsutra, which translates to ‘auspicious thread,’ is said to have its origins in the 6th century AD; initially, it comprised a simple turmeric-dyed thread strung with black beads. Traditionally worn in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka by married women, it has since evolved into a more elaborate ornament, the beads linked by gold and culminating in a pendant-like gold centrepiece occasionally studded with gemstones. While in recent years the symbolism of the mangalsutra has raised some debate, for contemporary Indian brides, this piece of jewellery is now seen, just like the classic diamond eternity band, as a symbol of love and commitment.
And in its distilling of the piece’s essence, the Bulgari mangalsutra seems as much a modern interpretation as going back to simpler times.
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