A ‘Gemme Nummarie’ tubogas choker with ancient Roman coins, by Bulgari, circa 1970.
Composed of four tubogas bands, the front set with two bronze Roman Imperial coins, signed Bulgari, maker’s mark, reverse of coin bezels engraved COSTANZO II 323-367 and FOLLIS RIDOTTO, inner circumference shortest band 33.5cm.
In the early 1970s, Italian house Bulgari revived a jewellery technique which has become one of its most recognisable and sought after designs. The Tubogas (gas-pipe) technique was first developed in the 19th century and popularised in the 1940s. It involves wrapping and interlocking two precious metal strips around a copper or wood core which is then removed resulting in a continuous flexible unsoldered band. Bulgari’s rendering of this type of chain was so skilful and in keeping with their yellow gold aesthetic that it has become one of their trademarks, used in necklaces, bracelets, watches and rings. They further innovated the technique by combining white and yellow precious metal strips to create varicoloured pieces and by joining rows of Tubogas to create impressive collars, some decorated with precious gems or ancient coins, the latter known as The Gemme Nummarie (Coin Gems) series.