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Leaving behind the glow of its native Roman sun, the jeweler chose Russia’s canaled city to present the collection, called Astrale. Most of the line’s rings, bracelets and pendants feature concentric circle patterns of white gold and pavé diamonds.
The collection should help boost Bulgari’s profile in the increasingly important Russian market. Luxury brands from Louis Vuitton to Burberry are rushing in to capitalize on the growing wealth of the Russian consumer, who more and more prefers to shop at home rather than abroad. Milan-based consulting firm Pambianco has estimated the Russian luxury goods market already is worth more than $1 billion — and expanding fast.
“This is part of a broader, more comprehensive project to extend our product range and compete in a market that is much more competitive than that of the 1990s,” Bulgari chief executive officer Francesco Trapani said in an interview.
Astrale is a logical follow-up to the technicolor offerings of past collections like Allegra, said Trapani, adding, “We needed more of a presence in white gold, diamonds and pavé.”
While white gold and diamonds predominate, there are a few exceptions. Several pieces also are available in yellow gold. A choker necklace and matching bracelet feature stingray leather straps. In a departure from the circular pattern, several items connect rectangles of pavé diamonds and gold spheres in a sort of deconstructed molecular-type formation.
Prices range from about $900 for a simple gold piece to approximately $2 million for a one-of-a-kind ring featuring three rare diamonds in pink, blue and yellow.
Bulgari presented the jewelry as part of a fashion show and dinner held at a huge, frescoed neoclassical palace, which was owned by Catherine the Great, filled with gold leaf, chandeliers, columns and statues on the outskirts of St. Petersburg — where it did, in fact, snow. The show featured gowns and other eveningwear from names such as Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta and Hedi Slimane. Just for the occasion, Bulgari and Valentino teamed up to craft a diamond pavé halter that cascades over an ankle-length black chiffon gown.