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Milan — By introducing Le Gemme, a collection of haute jewelry eyewear, Bulgari and Luxottica are scaling to the highest peak of the luxury pyramid.

This story first appeared in the June 29, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Inspired by nature and Bulgari’s iconic sapphire flower collection that harkens back to the Fifties and Sixties, Le Gemme features three distinct lines of sunglasses and prescription frames — a women’s line called Primavera; the Zephyr collection dedicated to men and the project’s crown jewel, Le Gemme Rare, or 10 one-of-kind eyeglasses enriched with precious stones such as diamonds and sapphires. The frames are entirely hand assembled in Italy by artisans in Luxottica’s Agordo plant.

Le Gemme will launch in October in Italy, North America, Asia and the Middle East, and reach global distribution within one year. Once the global rollout is finished, the line will be available in about 500 sales points worldwide, including Bulgari flagships, independent opticians and Luxottica’s high-end Ilori and Osa stores.

The large black or brown acetate frames in the Primavera line span simple gold plated styles to ones with delicate floral motifs achieved with semiprecious stones such as amethyst, citrines, pink quartz, orange agate and hematite, chromatically set in 18-karat solid gold in yellow, white or rose.

Retail prices for this collection range from 550 euros, or $780, for gold-plated rimless prescription frames to 8,500 euros, or $12,000, for solid gold and sapphires.

The gold arms of the Le Gemme Rare models, which can be personalized, are adorned with up to 60 elements, each single stone is applied manually. They are hinged onto acetate cat’s eye-like frames with a nod to the Fifties. For the most part, the recurring motif is a diamond pavé ring flanked by dainty flowers, at times clustered to form a bouquet, embossed with colored sapphires and diamonds. The styles range from an all-white design obtained with cabochon mother-of-pearl to multicolored petals. Retail prices for Le Gemme Rare are from 31,000 euros, or $44,000, to 65,000 euros, or $92,000.

According to Francesco Trapani, chief executive officer of Bulgari, the project fits in with the company’s high-end positioning. “The luxury goods market is very vast and not all companies have the same approach because some offer more affordable luxury than others,” he said. “Our strategy is to always be positioned at the higher end of the price range in all our categories, from jewelry to accessories, and now eyewear.”

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