Jewels fit for a Sheikha: Bvlgari's new collection

L’Officiel Arabia sat down with Jean-Christophe Babin, the CEO of Bvlgari, to discuss the brand’s new collaboration with Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Reading time 6 minutes

Thank you so much for inviting L’Officiel Arabia to the launch of your new collection at the Louvre, it was incredible. How did the project first come about and why did you decide to partner with  Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan?

Our team here in the Middle East was instrumental with the project. We knew HH Sheikha Fatima was very interested in art, culture and jewelry as we were mentioning yesterday in the speeches and so she went into contact with our creative director Lucia [Silvestri]. It started really very casually with no real project or intention and with a friendship developing, the Sheikha came to Rome, just interested by jewelry and at a certain stage we started sketching and discussing the Arabic traditions in terms of jewelry and how much overlap there was in terms of what we do at Bvlgari. There are definitely some commonalities. Some materials are similar. We still like diamonds whereas pearls typically would be more used more traditionally in Arabic jewelry than they would be in Italian jewelry. However, we have both. And eventually they came to the idea to develop not one piece, which is something pretty common between Royals and a jeweler; but with a collection which is unprecedented. 

How much was HH Sheikha Fatima involved in the overall process? 

Oh she was greatly involved, she was part of the creative process at every stage. It was an immense project too, we had in total 500 designs, which were then whittled down to less than 40. It doesn't mean that we will throw away the other 400 plus designs, but it means that if we want to continue - and hopefully we will - we already have a lot of creative designs ready to be crafted. It was already extraordinary that it's such a short period of time this has happened, because the first discussions with the Sheikha started two years ago, but the real momentum happened just one year ago, when an idea became a sketch, and the sketch became a jewel, a jewel became a collection.So it has been already for us, a huge undertaking to create this collection in parallel with our regular jewelry collection, including one that we will unveil in Rome in June.

Why do you think Bvlgari resonates so much with the middle Eastern audience?

Obviously Bvlgari is an Italian brand, and I think there are a lot of commonalities between Italian and Middle Eastern culture and values. Family is at the centre of Italian life, and that’s the same here in the Middle East, it's at the core of the community. I think because there are these cultural affinities, I became pretty convinced that when talking about jewelry, there would be affinities between Middle East and Bvlgari. When I joined the company seven years ago and we had already quite a good business, but ever since developing more and more events with Middle East, our business has really skyrocketed.

 What made you choose the Louvre Abu Dhabi as the location to launch the collaboration? 

Well, it's not that we, we wanted the Louvre, you don't choose a Louvre, rather you are lucky to be accepted by the Louvre to host such an event.  because it was the very first time ever that the Louvre accepted such an event. So we have been extremely happy that our dream came true because it was just a dream.

It's one of the most iconic cultural landmarks in Abu Dhabi. It made a lot of sense in many ways, because of the nature and the essence of the project, which was highly cultural. In terms of East meets West and this connection between Middle Eastern jewelry influenced by Sheikha and Western jewelry, embodied by Bvlgari. So the Louvre, as this iconic institution of art and culture was the ideal, perfect setting.  

In terms of the Middle East, is there anything else that your audience here can look forward to in 2020?

Well, as you can imagine we are quite interested by the Expo of course. I mean it will be the major event on the planet. We know that 2020 will be extraordinary. We are going to be working very closely with the Italian government, so that if a few brands will be exhibited or introduced as emblematic of Italian excellence at the Pavillion, Bvlgari will be one of those. So it's a bit early again to confirm it, but we're actively working so that Bvlgari will be one of the flagship of Italian excellence in the Expo 2020.

You recently announced that you won’t be attending Baselworld? Why is that?

I decided that we weren’t going only a couple of weeks ago. Why? First because we had an extremely successful time at LVMH Watch Week in Dubai back in January, which was hosted at the Bvlgari hotel.  We had most of our key clients joining and a lot of key media. And I would say the two thirds of our novelties were presented there and some have already started to be delivered. So we are well ahead of the competition, who are waiting for the watch fairs in April and May. So when we realized that the event had gone beyond our expectations in terms of reaching clients, exposure and purchase of our collections we realised that Baselworld was probably a little bit superfluous.

Additionally with the Coronavirus, everyone probably - even if there is a vaccine by then, people are unlikely to be travelling to densely populated locations. So having that in mind, we decided it was a better idea to organize some road shows in the key markets where we could have, again like in Dubai, have very qualitative meetings, and we can travel to them. Clients are coming instead of half an hour, 45 minutes, we can spend three hours, we can have a great dinner together, so it's quality over quantity and really fitting in with our clients' needs and meeting their requirements this year. of them which would be this year.

Thank you so much, we wish you all the best this year.

Thank you, you too. 

Check out the Bvlgari show in the gallery below. For more information, visit



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