Lucia Silvestri is the creative director for jewellery at Bulgari. David Atlan
Lucia Silvestri is the creative director for jewellery at Bulgari. David Atlan

Exclusive: Bulgari’s creative director for jewellery tells us about her love for gems

“The last stone that really talked to me was an emerald, 55 carats,” Lucia Silvestri, Bulgari’s creative director for jewellery, tells me with a grin. “I wanted to see the life in that stone. I could see something there, but it was not completely clear. So I asked the supplier to recut it a little bit, and now it’s the best emerald in the world.”

The stone will form the centrepiece of a necklace in Bulgari’s next high-jewellery collection. The piece is not quite complete, but Silvestri shows me a picture, almost conspiratorially, on her phone. Again, she can barely contain her excitement.

It is this same enthusiasm, unfettered after 35 years in the industry, that first got Silvestri her job at Bulgari, she explains. “I was 18 years old and I met Mr Bulgari in his office. He had this huge table, full of gems. I’m a very shy person, but when I saw the gems, I started touching them. I couldn’t help it. I think Mr Bulgari was a little surprised. And maybe at that moment he understood there was something in me – a special feeling.”

The Bulgari brothers, Nicola and Paolo, great-grandsons of the founder of the storied jewellery brand, became Silvestri’s mentors. At the age of 20 she began travelling the globe – visiting Geneva, Antwerp, New York, Jaipur and Colombo – to meet the world’s leading gemmologists. She learnt how to sort, select and acquire precious stones, and was eventually named director of gem acquisitions, a role that had previously only been held by the Bulgari brothers. In 2013, Silvestri was appointed as Bulgari’s creative director for jewellery.

Earlier this year, Silvestri’s expertise and experience were recognised at the 15th annual GEM Awards, which are organised by Jewelers of America, a national trade association serving the fine-jewellery marketplace. Silvestri picked up the GEM Award for Jewelry Design and is unashamedly proud of her achievement when we meet in Dubai a few weeks later. “It’s very emotional to me,” she says. “It’s important because now I can feel that everybody knows that I worked very hard – although, for me it’s not just work, it’s a passion. I don’t work, I play, with gems.”

She is also, quite rightly, proud of being a woman who has succeeded in a very male-dominated industry, and of the fact that she is one of the few, if not the only, people in her position who is equally skilled in the acquisition and design side of the process.

For its 2017 high-jewellery offering, Bulgari played on its distinctly Italian appeal, with a collection that celebrates the blue hues of the Mediterranean, the pinks of an Italian sunset and the golds of ancient Rome. The collection is divided into three parts – Italian Extravaganza, Mediterranean Eden and Roman Heritage. In its entirety, it highlights what is perhaps Bulgari’s and, by extension, Silvestri’s greatest strength: the ability to fuse old and new, and to incorporate signature motifs in new and intriguing ways. It is also an unapologetic tribute to the brand’s home city: Rome.

“When I am buying gems around the world, I take inspiration from everywhere,” says Silvestri. “But I am truly inspired when I get home and I look at the colours of Rome – the colours are so special, from the sky to the buildings to the architecture. Rome is an open museum. I can go around a corner, and maybe I’ve done it a million times before, but I’ll see something new and I’ll think – that could be a motif for a pair of earrings. So Rome, for me, is fundamental.”

She takes the Spanish Steps as an example. There is a necklace in the new collection that takes direct inspiration from the popular Roman landmark. Bulgari made a €1.5 million (almost Dh6m) donation to fund a restoration of the Spanish Steps, and the project was completed last year, so this reference in the new collection is not unexpected. But it’s actually an idea that Silvestri has been carrying around with her for decades. “I was very young when I first went to the Bulgari store on Via Condotti, which overlooks the Spanish Steps. Even then I thought that they could be the inspiration for a big necklace. So when, last year, the marketing department asked me to create something for the Spanish Steps, I was very happy because it was already in my mind.”

The collection also references Rome’s ancient Terme di Caracalla, dubbed the first spa in human history. The Divas’ Dream Bellezza earrings are a tribute to the age-old beautification rituals practised there. Elsewhere, ancient coins are encircled with diamonds and other precious stones in oversized medallion-like pieces that offer a new, but also very old, take on the brand’s Parentesi motif, itself inspired by the travertine stones that were used to pave the roads leading to Rome. And in the Giardini Italiani collection, Bulgari references the artists of the Renaissance period, who also drew such inspiration from the natural world.

Silvestri admits to being a particular fan of earrings, and is on a one-woman mission to bring brooches back into fashion. “I can’t live without earrings. And right now I am very close to the sautoir. I think it’s a trend. But I would like to do something with brooches. They are very elegant, and we have stopped wearing them. We have to adjust them a little bit, because maybe in the past they have been too heavy. But now, if we do something a little more light and playful, it could be something that we can wear.”

And of all the pieces she has seen and created in her time, is there one that is particularly special, I wonder? “I have many special pieces. But there is one Elizabeth Taylor sautoir with a sugar-loaf sapphire, 60 carats, that is the best sapphire that I have ever seen,” she says. “For me, it is hypnotic. Mr Bulgari and I can spend hours just looking at the stone, not saying a word.”

Read this and more stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, April 13.

What is tokenisation?

Tokenisation refers to the issuance of a blockchain token, which represents a virtually tradable real, tangible asset. A tokenised asset is easily transferable, offers good liquidity, returns and is easily traded on the secondary markets. 

Top 5 concerns globally:

1. Unemployment

2. Spread of infectious diseases

3. Fiscal crises

4. Cyber attacks

5. Profound social instability

Top 5 concerns in the Mena region

1. Energy price shock

2. Fiscal crises

3. Spread of infectious diseases

4. Unmanageable inflation

5. Cyber attacks

Source: World Economic Foundation


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Stars: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson

Rating: 4/5

How the UAE gratuity payment is calculated now

Employees leaving an organisation are entitled to an end-of-service gratuity after completing at least one year of service.

The tenure is calculated on the number of days worked and does not include lengthy leave periods, such as a sabbatical. If you have worked for a company between one and five years, you are paid 21 days of pay based on your final basic salary. After five years, however, you are entitled to 30 days of pay. The total lump sum you receive is based on the duration of your employment.

1. For those who have worked between one and five years, on a basic salary of Dh10,000 (calculation based on 30 days):

a. Dh10,000 ÷ 30 = Dh333.33. Your daily wage is Dh333.33

b. Dh333.33 x 21 = Dh7,000. So 21 days salary equates to Dh7,000 in gratuity entitlement for each year of service. Multiply this figure for every year of service up to five years.

2. For those who have worked more than five years

c. 333.33 x 30 = Dh10,000. So 30 days’ salary is Dh10,000 in gratuity entitlement for each year of service.

Note: The maximum figure cannot exceed two years total salary figure.

Top 10 most polluted cities
  1. Bhiwadi, India
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Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Meydan race card

6pm Dubai Trophy – Conditions(TB)+$100,000 (Turf) 1,200m 

6.35Dubai Trophy – Conditions(TB) $100,000 (Turf) 1,200m

7.10pm Jumeirah Derby Trial – Conditions+(TB) $60,000+(T)
1,800m ,400m 

7.45pm Al Rashidiya – Group 2 (TB) +$180,000 (T) 1,800m 

8.20pm Al Fahidi Fort – Group 2 (TB)+$180,000 (T) 1,400m 

8.55pm Dubawi Stakes – Group 3 (TB) $150,000 (D) 1,200m 

9.30pm Aliyah – Rated Conditions (TB) $80,000 (D) 2,000m  


1. Charlotte Kool (NED) – Team DSM: 2hrs, 47min, 14sec
2. Lorena Wiebes (NED) – Team SD Worx: +4 secs
3. Chiara Consonni (ITA) – UAE Team ADQ: +5 secs


Goalkeepers: Ali Khaseif, Fahad Al Dhanhani, Mohammed Al Shamsi, Adel Al Hosani

Defenders: Bandar Al Ahbabi, Shaheen Abdulrahman, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Mohammed Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Hassan Al Mahrami, Yousef Jaber, Salem Rashid, Mohammed Al Attas, Alhassan Saleh

Midfielders: Ali Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdullah Al Naqbi, Majed Hassan, Yahya Nader, Ahmed Barman, Abdullah Hamad, Khalfan Mubarak, Khalil Al Hammadi, Tahnoun Al Zaabi, Harib Abdallah, Mohammed Jumah, Yahya Al Ghassani

Forwards: Fabio De Lima, Caio Canedo, Ali Saleh, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue, Zayed Al Ameri

Health Valley

Founded in 2002 and set up as a foundation in 2006, Health Valley has been an innovation in healthcare for more than 10 years in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
It serves as a place where companies, businesses, universities, healthcare providers and government agencies can collaborate, offering a platform where they can connect and work together on healthcare innovation.
Its partners work on technological innovation, new forms of diagnostics and other methods to make a difference in healthcare.
Its agency consists of eight people, four innovation managers and office managers, two communication advisers and one director. It gives innovation support to businesses and other parties in its network like a broker, connecting people with the right organisation to help them further

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo

Power: 240hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 390Nm at 3,000rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh122,745

On sale: now


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


UAE group fixtures (all in St Kitts)
Saturday 15 January: v Canada
Thursday 20 January: v England
Saturday 22 January: v Bangladesh

UAE squad
Alishan Sharafu (captain), Shival Bawa, Jash Giyanani, Sailles Jaishankar, Nilansh Keswani, Aayan Khan, Punya Mehra, Ali Naseer, Ronak Panoly, Dhruv Parashar, Vinayak Raghavan, Soorya Sathish, Aryansh Sharma, Adithya Shetty, Kai Smith

The team

Fashion director: Sarah Maisey
Photographer: Greg Adamski
Hair and make-up: Ania Poniatowska
Models: Nyajouk and Kristine at MMG, and Mitchell
Stylist’s assistants: Nihala Naval and Sneha Maria Siby
Videographer: Nilanjana Gupta

The Boy and the Heron

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Ko Shibasaki

Rating: 5/5


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Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Company profile

Name: Pyppl

Established: 2017

Founders: Antti Arponen and Phil Reynolds

Based: UAE

Sector: financial services

Investment: $18.5 million

Employees: 150

Funding stage: series A, closed in 2021

Investors: venture capital companies, international funds, family offices, high-net-worth individuals


Liverpool 4 (Salah (pen 4, 33', & pen 88', Van Dijk (20')

Leeds United 3 (Harrison 12', Bamford 30', Klich 66')

Man of the match Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)


Name: Enhance Fitness 

Year started: 2018 

Based: UAE 

Employees: 200 

Amount raised:+$3m 

Investors: Global Ventures and angel investors 

Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

From September 18-25, Abu Dhabi . The two finalists advance to the main event in South Africa in February 2023

Group A: United States, Ireland, Scotland, Bangladesh
Group B: UAE, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea

UAE group fixtures:
Sept 18, 3pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium – UAE v Thailand
Sept 19, 3pm, Tolerance Oval - PNG v UAE
Sept 21, 7pm, Tolerance Oval – UAE v Zimbabwe

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Rinitha Rajith, Rithika Rajith, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka


Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2532 x 1170, 460ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 3279 mAh, up to 20h video, 16h streaming video, 80h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,399 / Dh3,799 / Dh4,649

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8


Director: S.J. Clarkson

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tahar Rahim, Sydney Sweeney

Rating: 3.5/5


Main card

Bantamweight 56.4kg: Mehdi Eljamari (MAR) beat Abrorbek Madiminbekov (UZB), Split points decision

Super heavyweight 94+kg: Adnan Mohammad (IRN) beat Mohammed Ajaraam (MAR), Split points decision

Lightweight 60kg:  Zakaria Eljamari (UAE) beat Faridoon Alik Zai (AFG), RSC round 3

Light heavyweight 81.4kg: Taha Marrouni (MAR) beat Mahmood Amin (EGY), Unanimous points decision

Light welterweight 64.5kg: Siyovush Gulmamadov (TJK) beat Nouredine Samir (UAE), Unanimous points decision

Light heavyweight 81.4kg:  Ilyass Habibali (UAE) beat Haroun Baka (ALG), KO second round


Deadpool 2

Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars


Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke

Rating: 3/5