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Inside The Dream: the fascinating story behind Zendaya’s stunning Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald necklace

American actor Zendaya looked every inch the movie star as she walked the red carpet for the Dune premiere at last year’s Venice International Film Festival.

Immaculately clad in a nude, high-slit gown from Balmain and Louboutin pumps in the same tone, the Euphoria star instantly won the approval of fashion bibles around the world and social media users, alike.

At the base of her throat, perfectly nestled between her clavicles and thoroughly befitting her status as one of the most exciting talents on the planet, was an astonishing 93.83-carat emerald.

The sort of jewel one might normally associate with royalty, which, of course, Zendaya is fast on the way to becoming, at least in a Hollywood sense, courtesy of her burgeoning resume and relationship with the prince of the box office, Tom “Spider-Man” Holland.

Turns out Denis Villeneuve’s Dune wasn’t the only impressive piece of art making its debut that day – high jewellery maison Bulgari chose the Venice red carpet and, more importantly, Zendaya’s impossibly elegant neck, for the public premiere of its Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald necklace.

Actor Zendaya is fitted with the Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald necklace.
Camera IconActor Zendaya is fitted with the Serpenti Hypnotic Emerald necklace. Credit: Supplied/Bulgari

Now, for the first time, Bulgari has allowed cameras into its top-secret workshop to show exactly how such a piece is made.

The resulting film, Inside the Dream, chronicles the journey of the precious gem at the heart of the necklace, from a 21,000-carat rough emerald the size of a baby to the cabochon-cut, show-stopping stone we saw in Venice.

In an exclusive interview with STM, Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin says the design of the sinuously twisting necklace, set with diamonds and smaller emeralds, was entirely informed by the “unique nature” of the giant gemstone.

“When our jewellery creative director, Lucia Silvestri, and the team of gem hunters succeed in finding something very special, there must always be an idea or a vision of what kind of jewel it should become,” Babin says.

The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this month and is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, showcases Silvestri’s prodigious talent in what has historically been an industry dominated by men.

Bulgari's jewellery creative director, Lucia Silvestri, inspects gemstones in Jaipur, India.
Camera IconBulgari’s jewellery creative director, Lucia Silvestri, inspects gemstones in Jaipur, India. Credit: Bulgari/Bulgari

It also illustrates how the union of jewellery and wearer can create something even greater than the sum of the parts, which is no small thing when the parts include such luminary stars as Zendaya, US-based Indian actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, supermodel Lily Aldridge and BLACKPINK member Lalisa “Lisa” Manobal.

“Since the Dolce Vita and the years when Liz Taylor was wearing our jewellery, Hollywood has created a lot of visibility for Bulgari, despite being a small family company,” Babin admits.

With more than 150 million Instagram followers, and incredible cachet among young people, Zendaya is an inspired choice as an ambassador for Bulgari, but the company’s CEO says a great deal of consideration goes into any celebrity partnership.

“Our challenge is to find ambassadors that embrace our values, our deeply rooted Italian culture and savoir faire, bringing them to every part of the world in an individual but coherent way,” Babin explains.

So, it’s a significant mark of respect that the legendary purveyor of exclusive jewellery decided this year to add Perth actor Olivia DeJonge, star of Baz Luhrmann’s hit Elvis biopic, to its stable of ambassadors.

“(DeJonge) is an incredibly talented young woman, genuine and authentic,” Babin tells STM.

“She is a rising star that has already captured the attention for her magnificent role as Priscilla Presley … and we are simply sure that she will go a long way, and we wanted to be with her on this meteoric rise.”

Perth actress Olivia DeJonge
Camera IconPerth actress Olivia DeJonge has become a Bulgari ambassador. Credit: Hugh Stewart

Babin is equally sure of his company’s economic outlook as it emerges from a global pandemic.

“Our clients’ appetite for beauty, craftsmanship and masterpieces of high jewellery is still there, so we were more optimistic than ever,” he confirms.

“The pandemic has just been a powerful accelerator that has shown us how much more we can do.”

Inside the Dream offers viewers a rare insight into what Bulgari has always done — namely, craft unique and breathtaking jewellery — but we got a glimpse of what it might do in the future last month when the company made a foray into the bold new world of the metaverse.

Featuring an interactive avatar of BLACKPINK’s Lisa, Bulgari opened a virtual store and cafe on Zepeto, Asia’s biggest Metaverse platform, to showcase its 2022 Resort Collection to the platform’s 300 million users.

“As a luxury house that has made crossing boundaries a part of its DNA, it is intrinsic to our mentality to constantly expand the vision of our creative universe,” Babin says.

“In this sense, even in approaching this completely new world of the metaverse, our goal is not to follow a trend, but to create something new — a new way to experience luxury, of course always inspired by our . . . values of Italian excellence.”

Inside the Dream is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now.

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