In the spring of 1970, brothers Paolo and Nicola Bvlgari, heirs to the Italian jewelry house founded by their grandfather 86 years earlier, flew to Japan from their hometown of Rome. Though they often traveled to India, Turkey, or America for inspiration, this trip was intended strictly as a vacation. Still, the brothers fell hard for Mount Fuji, the snowy volcanic peak that looms behind Tokyo’s high-rises, and when they got home they had its iconic form (along with a ginkgo tree) layered into this nearly three-ounce brooch of enamel, diamonds, and mother-of-pearl.
It sold to a private buyer, but in 2005 Bulgari won it back for $43,781 at Christie’s. The ultimate travel trophy is now on display at Bulgari’s Rome flagship, which Paolo and Nicola visit daily. As it happens, the via Condotti shop is just off the Spanish Steps, a different type of see-before-you-die landmark that Bulgari recently restored for $1.7 million, repairing the cracked travertine to look as it did before 290 years of touristic wear and tear. So maybe the next time the brothers seek inspiration, they won’t have to go so far.