World Coins

Bulgari coin jewelry shown in New York City exhibit

Beyond being items of commerce and stores of wealth, they also can be objects of personal adornment. Since ancient times coins have been used in jewelry, and today, some of the finest and most expensive jewelry incorporating coins is produced by the Italian firm Bulgari. 

The American Numismatic Society has loaned 18 ancient Roman coins to Bulgari for the exhibit “Bulgari & Rome: Eternal Inspiration,” described as a Roman-inspired jewelry exhibition celebrating Bulgari’s heritage. 

The show, which runs from Oct. 15 through Nov. 22, is open to the public at Bulgari’s flagship store, 730 Fifth Ave., New York City. A tour can be scheduled by calling 212-315-9000.

Particular highlights from the ANS include a gold Treveri medallion from A.D. 293 to 294 that features busts of Diocletian and Maximian on one side and busts of Maximian and Constantius on the other side, each wearing the imperial mantle; and a Nero bronze sestertius, dating between 66 and 68, with a portrait of Nero on the obverse and the Temple of Janus on the reverse. 

Showcasing jewelry

The Bulgari exhibition showcases jewelry from Bulgari’s archive and from private collections, inspired by the architecture and monuments of Rome, including the Pantheon and Via Appia, one of the oldest roads in ancient Rome. 

Bulgari’s Monete Collection incorporates coins from ancient Greek, Roman and other cultures, with the ancient coins showcased in typically 18-karat pink or yellow gold jewelry settings. 

The collection was introduced in the 1950s and updated in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, Bulgari incorporates a wider range of coins in its jewelry and handbags, and it remains popular — and expensive. The collections include earrings, necklaces and bracelets and recent collections have included leather and gold necklaces that are designed for men and women. 

For gentlemen, the Monete Collection includes a cufflinks set in 18-karat gold, and the antiques and luxury goods site lists several pairs with common late Roman bronze coins, priced at the $3,500 to $5,000 level. The most exceptional pieces, generally massive gold necklaces, can sell for six-figure prices. 

Ute Wartenberg, ANS executive director, wrote in a Sept. 23 press release, “The ANS is pleased to loan a selection of coins to Bulgari for this fascinating exhibit which brings ancient Roman history and architecture into the present-day in a most beautiful display. The coins and jewelry represent the monumental contributions the Romans made to modern society and remind us that the past still serves as inspiration. This project with Bulgari is a great opportunity to highlight works inspired by Rome and to bring the beauty of numismatics to a wider audience.” 

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