Guy Bedarida: Virtuoso unmasked
Instrumental in elevating the aesthetic acuities of iconic maisons such as Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels and John Hardy, veteran jewellery designer Guy Bedarida is once again working his magic – this time breathing new life into a beloved heritage brand, Marina B.
Renowned jewellery designer Guy Bedarida leaves a mark of sophistication wherever he goes, thanks to an inherent talent for the arts. Honed to excellence throughout his 25-year professional journey, this creative acumen helped raise the profiles of celebrated jewellers Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels and John Hardy where Bedarida worked as lead designer.
In 2017, he made a giant leap in his career and acquired Marina B – a revolutionary jewellery brand founded in 1976 by Marina Bulgari of the legendary Bulgari dynasty. “There is no woman more important to the world of jewellery than Marina Bulgari. I have followed her since the 1980s,” shared Bedarida. “I had to buy Marina B. I wanted to restore it to its former glory when Marina owned it and help it retain its DNA.”
Marina B is among a few heritage jewellery companies not owned by a conglomerate, which meant the brand’s identity remains intact, he continued. As owner and creative director, Bedarida is ushering in a rebirth of sorts at Marina B, one that preserves its opulent lineage while punctuating its latest collections with contemporary elements for a new generation of consumers.
Born to the Bulgari clan in 1930, Marina had her destiny etched in stone from her early years. After working in the family business, she left to forge her own path and established Marina B.
Revered as one of the most influential female jewellers of the 20th century, Marina inspired the first generation of empowered, self-actualised women who purchased jewellery for themselves. Her creations – exuding understated sophistication and colourful expression – became an instant hit, winning favour among celebrities and members of the royal family.
This design trajectory lives on, with Bedarida at the helm of Marina B.
Journey of inspiration
Bedarida worked as head designer and creative director at John Hardy from 1999 to 2015. Prior to that, the Italian-born French designer was the artistic force behind exceptional jewellery pieces at Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron at Place Vendôme.
His passion for the craft however can be traced back to his youth, fuelled by exposure to various artists like painters, writers and architects, whom he met during overseas trips. His father then worked as a cultural attaché and would travel from embassy to embassy.
“Mine has been such a journey of love – love for jewellery, the process of learning and creativity,” Bedarida tells JNA.
He describes his design philosophy as “very sympatric, authentic and fluid.” As a designer, his process involves studying trends, but what ultimately influences his collections is creative instinct. For instance, he revealed that modern female consumers now place a premium on wearability and comfort, on top of attractiveness, when choosing a jewellery piece.
At Marina B, Bedarida envisions a company that democratises luxury through everyday jewellery collections while upholding its fundamental heritage and corporate character.
“I took Marina B’s essence and made it more relevant for the 21st century without losing sight of the founder’s vision,” he noted. Bedarida reinvented the company’s most emblematic collections such as Cardan, Trisola and Atomo to create fresh reiterations for contemporary end-consumers.
Design fluidity and flexibility in choice of materials are crucial to staying relevant in the world of fine jewellery, according to Bedarida. By evolving and exploring different directions, jewellers can offer wider options to increasingly discerning buyers.
Marina B recently unveiled two new collections – Soleil and Trina – inspired by time-honoured themes and techniques polished to perfection over the years by the brand. Bedarida’s innovative take on symmetry and colour combination injects a dose of intricate luxury to the jewellery pieces.
Soleil, which takes influence from the Sun collection launched 40 years ago by Marina B, alludes to the promise of hope and tomorrow – hence the tagline, “The Sun Always Returns.”
The collection was being developed when the coronavirus pandemic struck, making it even more relevant today.
Described by the designer as “bold and happy,” Soleil features 18-karat gold jewellery with diamonds and a smiling sun emblem on silver coins. These price-point items are expected to generate interest among a diverse range of clients.
Refined open-work detail is the crux of the Trina collection. The jewellery pieces draw attention to geometric, chestnut-shaped holes – another signature Marina B style – in 18-karat gold accentuated with pavé diamonds. The ultra-feminine pieces, formed like undulating laces, are the “21st century interpretation” of Marina’s favoured shape. The light, delicate and playful contours rest beautifully on a woman’s neck or wrists, easily complementing any look.
The new consumer
Marina B is likewise embarking on a digital journey, taking advantage of homebound clients’ penchant for social media and online shopping. The company recently revamped its digital platform, quickly attracting more traffic. Its Instagram page is also seeing improved activity, with online customers regularly viewing products and making purchases.
“Innovation keeps the brand fresh. Customers have become partial to change, especially in the digital age,” noted Bedarida. “The digital world has never been more important to the jewellery sector since Covid-19. We must have a strong presence on social media. That is also our focus.”
Pre-coronavirus, statement jewellery pieces were in high demand, but the pandemic completely changed the way people perceive jewellery. Buyers are now mostly looking for everyday jewellery pieces that convey consolation and tempered luxury.
At Marina B, collections such as Trisolina – Bedarida’s modern interpretation of the popular Trisola line created by Marina – corresponds to this longing for contemplation and simplicity. Set in 18-karat gold and diamond accents, Trisolina features the iconic Italian Tubogas design. “Our jewellery provides people with hope and positivity. Consumers are looking for ways to spend responsibly, but it still needs to be fun for them,” he added.
Sustainability is also taking precedence in the jewellery community. According to him, jewellers – who contribute to the world through artistic expression – have a renewed sense of responsibility for Mother Earth and a commitment to giving back to society.
With customers becoming more ethically conscious, the demand for jewellery that is as pleasing to the eye as it is environment-friendly is on the rise.
Moving forward, Bedarida is laying the groundwork for the La Casa collection as well as a men’s jewellery line. La Casa, a fast-growing assortment of design-centric jewellery pieces, presents gift ideas for those spending most of their time at home. The men’s collection meanwhile stems from Bedarida’s love for wearing jewellery – a way of infusing his own aesthetic direction into the Marina B brand.
“Designing men’s jewellery is a natural direction for me as I myself enjoy donning bracelets, pendants or cufflinks,” he noted. “Jewellery for men is definitely making a comeback.”